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Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter

Paris Burris / Red Dirt Report
Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby exits a Tulsa County courtroom on the sixth day of her manslaughter trial on Monday.
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UPDATE: After the jury deliberated for about nine hours on Wednesday, the verdict was reached. Betty Shelby was found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter.

TULSA, Okla. — Deliberations are underway Wednesday afternoon in the manslaughter trial for Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, who faces up to a life sentence for fatally shooting Terence Crutcher Sept. 16.

The jury of 12 — eight women and four men, including two black women and one black man — will not be allowed to leave the Tulsa County Courthouse until they reach a verdict unanimously or they are unable to, in which a hung jury or mistrial would be declared.

Closing arguments for both the prosecution and defense ended about noon Wednesday.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, who charged Shelby with first-degree manslaughter in the heat of passion on Sept. 22, has argued that Shelby, who is white, unreasonably shot Crutcher, who was black, out of fear.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray argued that even if Shelby followed her police training, which taught her that “action beats reaction,” it doesn’t mean she didn’t commit a crime.

Shelby testified Monday that she shot Crutcher because she thought he was reaching into the driver’s side door of his abandoned Lincoln Navigator, which was parked and running in the middle of a Tulsa road, to retrieve a gun to shoot her with.

No guns were found inside Crutcher’s vehicle.

Shelby testified that she feared for her life because Crutcher did not communicate with her, walked away from her and repeatedly switched between having his hands in the air and reaching toward his pockets.

Crutcher caused his own death, in Shelby’s opinion, and it could’ve been avoided had he complied with her commands to “Stop!” and to get down on his knees, she testified.

Defense Attorney Shannon McMurray told jurors Crutcher “made those choices” and that Shelby was in “complete control” when the shooting occurred.

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Paris Burris

Oklahoma City native Paris Burris started covering Tulsa news for Red Dirt Report in April 2017...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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