Tulsa lead­ers call for peace af­ter of­fi­cer found not guilty of man­slaugh­ter

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY JUSTIN JUOZA­PAVI­CIUS

TULSA, OKLA. | Tulsa lead­ers on Thurs­day called for a peace­ful re­sponse to a jury’s de­ci­sion to ac­quit a white po­lice of­fi­cer who fa­tally shot an un­armed black man, and said more must be done to fight racial di­vi­sions in Ok­la­homa’s sec­ond-largest city.

The com­ments came af­ter a jury on Wed­nes­day found Tulsa Of­fi­cer Betty Shelby not guilty of man­slaugh­ter. She said she shot out of fear Sept. 16 when she killed Ter­ence Crutcher, who had his hands held above his head.

The ini­tial re­ac­tion from the com­mu­nity in the hours af­ter Wed­nes­day night’s ver­dict was peace­ful. About 100 demon­stra­tors gath­ered out­side the court­house and some briefly blocked a main street, but po­lice kept a rel­a­tively low pro­file, stand­ing about a block away.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day that he re­spected the jury’s de­ci­sion, while also call­ing Tulsa’s racial di­vide the city’s great­est moral is­sue.

“This ver­dict does not al­ter the course on which we are adamantly set,” he said. “It does not change our recog­ni­tion of the racial dis­par­i­ties that have af­flicted Tulsa his­tor­i­cally. It does not change our work to in­sti­tute com­mu­nity polic­ing mea­sures that em­power cit­i­zens to work side by side with po­lice of­fi­cers in mak­ing our com­mu­nity safer.”

At least four of the 12 ju­rors were cry­ing as they left the court­room Wed­nes­day, and they did not look at ei­ther Crutcher’s fam­ily or Of­fi­cer Shelby. The jury com­prised eight women and four men and in­cluded three African-Amer­i­cans.

Crutcher’s fam­ily was quickly ush­ered out of the court­room sob­bing and wail­ing af­ter the de­ci­sion.

“Let it be known that I be­lieve in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with mur­der,” Crutcher’s fa­ther, the Rev. Joey Crutcher, said out­side the court­room.

Of­fi­cer Shelby looked stone-faced when the ver­dict was read, but her lawyer said she was “elated” with the jury’s de­ci­sion.

“She’s ready to get back to her life,” de­fense at­tor­ney Shan­non McMur­ray said.

Of­fi­cer Shelby tes­ti­fied that she fired her weapon out of fear be­cause she said Crutcher didn’t obey her com­mands to lie on the ground and ap­peared to reach in­side his SUV for what she thought was a gun. Crutcher was un­armed.

Pros­e­cu­tors told ju­rors that Of­fi­cer Shelby over­re­acted. They noted Crutcher had his hands in the air and wasn’t com­bat­ive — part of which was con­firmed by po­lice video taken from a dash­board cam­era and he­li­copter that showed Crutcher walk­ing away from Of­fi­cer Shelby, hands held above his head.

Of­fi­cer Shelby’s at­tor­neys ar­gued that in the two min­utes be­fore cam­eras be­gan record­ing the en­counter, Of­fi­cer Shelby re­peat­edly or­dered Crutcher to stop walk­ing away from her and get on the ground.

Of­fi­cer Shelby also said she feared Crutcher was un­der the in­flu­ence of PCP, a pow­er­ful hal­lu­cino­genic known as An­gel Dust that makes users er­ratic, un­pre­dictable and com­bat­ive.

An au­topsy showed PCP was in Crutcher’s sys­tem, and po­lice said they found a vial of it in his SUV.

The killing of 40-year-old Crutcher was among a spate of of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ings in re­cent years that helped gal­va­nize the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment and prompted calls for more po­lice ac­count­abil­ity.

Tulsa has a long his­tory of trou­bled race re­la­tions dat­ing back to a 1921 race riot that left about 300 black res­i­dents dead.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Crutcher fam­ily was ush­ered out of the court­room af­ter Tulsa, Ok­la­homa po­lice of­fi­cer Betty Jo Shelby was found not guilty of man­slaugh­ter against Ter­ence Crutcher.

Shelby

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.