Betty Shelby is the Tulsa Oklahoma police officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, whose car had apparently broken down in the middle of a roadway last week.
Shelby fired a single bullet which stuck Mr. Crutcher. He was taken to the hospital where he ultimately died. Just days later, Shelby is being charged with first degree manslaughter, according to county prosecutors.
According to Tulsa police, the shooting occurred near 36th Street and Lewis at about 7:36 p.m. Tulsa police initially claimed through their spokesperson, Jeanne Mackenzie, who spoke to KOTV:
“As they approached the vehicle a black male started towards them. They asked him to show his hands. He refused to follow commands given by the officers. They continued to talk to him. He continued not to listen, not follow any commands as they got closer to the vehicle he reached inside the vehicle and at that time there was a Taser deployment and then a short time later there was one shot fired.”
Here are 5 important facts about Betty Shelby and the charges being brought against her:
1. Both dashcam and footage obtained by the police helicopter which was circling the scene show that Crutcher initially had both arms raised in the air as he walked toward his car with Shelby in tow. A second police officer who arrived at the scene appears to rush to Shelby’s side with his taser drawn.
Crutcher appears to have his back to both officers, and then lean toward his Lincoln Navigator. Then, there is a single shot. As Crutcher falls to the ground, Shelby radios “Shots fired!” From the helicopter footage, Crutcher can be scene walking with his hands held high. As he approaches his vehicle, someone in the helicopter — probably the helicopter pilot — says “looks like a bad dude … might be on something.” The helicopter video corroborates the dashcam video. From this vantage point, it is a bit easier to see what occurred when Crutcher leaned over his vehicle.
According to the New York Times, the videos show “Crutcher raising his hands, walking toward a car and leaning against it.” He was first tasered by Officer Tyler Turnbough and then shot by Officer Shelby.
2. Betty Shelby’s husband, Dave Shelby, is also a police officer. Dave Shelby was in the helicopter which was circling above the scene, the same helicopter which provided the above clip. He was not the person who called Crutcher a “bad dude.” According to a police spokesman who spoke to the Tulsa World, Shelby’s husband was in the helicopter “by happenstance.”
TPD told me it appears other officer in the chopper (who hasn't been identified) made that comment. https://t.co/9mS3SrYFlK
— Samantha Vicent (@samanthavicent) September 19, 2016
The officer who made the “bad dude” comment has not been identified by the police.
3. Betty Shelby gave a statement to homicide detectives on Monday — the same day that the videos were made public — according to the New York Times.
Scott Wood, her lawyer, told the New York Times that Shelby believed that Crutcher had a weapon and was also under the influence of drugs — perhaps PCP. He said that Crutcher “had acted erratically, refused to comply with several orders, tried to put his hand in his pocket and reached inside his car window before he was shot.
According to Wood, the entire incident began about two minutes before the dashcam video started. Shelby was the first to arrive at the scene, seeing Crutcher’s disabled vehicle. She called for backup. For reasons that have not been disclosed, her dashcam did not record the incident.
4. Scott Wood said that Crutcher was not with his vehicle when Officer Shelby arrived. She did not know exactly what had occurred or why Crutcher’s vehicle was in the road. Based on her training, Shelby believed that Crutcher was acting erratically and was under the influence of PCP.
Police said that a vial of PCP was found in Crutcher’s car. No autopsy or toxicology results have been released.
5. Betty Shelby has been accused of using excessive force twice before, according to KOTV. Both of those charges were investigated and determined to be unfounded. Details of those cases are not available.
Shelby has received four letters of commendation and an Oklahoma meritorious service award. According to KJRH, Shelby answered in the affirmative to the question of whether she’d “ever possessed or used illegal drugs,” on her application for the sheriff’s office, and to the question of whether if she had ever had a “victim protection order filed against you, or any action pending.”
You can read Betty Shelby’s full application for the sheriff’s office here.