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Not guilty: Betty Shelby verdict sparks protest, discussion in Tulsa

Spencer Cox / Red Dirt Report
Community Activist Angie Pitts holds a "Black Lives Matter" shirt during a protest of the not-guilty verdict in Betty Shelby's first-degree manslaughter trial in front of the Mayo Hotel in Tulsa on Wednesday.
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TULSA, Okla. — Emotions surrounding the shooting death of unarmed Terence Crutcher came full circle Wednesday as a not-guilty verdict was delivered in the manslaughter trial of Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby.

Shelby, who is white, shot Crutcher, who was black, on Sept. 16 after she encountered Crutcher and his abandoned vehicle in the middle of a city road. Crutcher’s death sparked national and international media attention amid heightened racial tension and rigid community-police relations.

“This is not just a Tulsa problem, it’s nationwide,” said Terence Colbert, who was outside of the Tulsa County Courthouse awaiting the verdict.

Kevin Hall, who was also outside of the courthouse, said Shelby showed no remorse for shooting Crutcher.

“I’m sure the champagne was purchased before she even pulled the trigger,” Hall said. “What if it was someone that you love?”

Jurors cried as District Judge Doug Drummond read the verdict. People in the courtroom gallery also cried, while others outside the courtroom shouted, “Woo!”

An unorganized protest of roughly 70 people developed in front of the Tulsa County Courthouse shortly after the verdict was read. Marchers made their way a short distance to the Mayo Hotel, where protesters shouted, “Bring the murderer out,” as they purportedly believed Shelby to be inside.

As marchers shouted, “No justice, no peace” outside the courthouse, Crutcher’s family members decried the verdict inside.

“I said I would accept whatever the verdict was and I’m gonna do that,” said Joey Crutcher, Terence’s father. “But let it be known that deep in my heart Betty Shelby got away with murder.”

Crutcher’s family and a small group of supporters shouted, “Hands up, don’t shoot” a few times before Terence’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, talked to media members.

“This was definitely a tough pill to swallow,” Tiffany Crutcher said. “Terence was not the aggressor. Betty Shelby was the aggressor. Betty Shelby had the gun. Betty Shelby was following him with his hands up. Betty Shelby murdered my brother.”

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler told media members even though the verdict wasn’t what he had fought for, justice was still served.

The jury of 12 — eight women and four men, including two black women and one black man — deliberated for a little more than nine hours Wednesday before reaching their verdict.

“You know that jury worked hard on this case,” Kunzweiler said. “We had a cross-section of our community. We had African-Americans on this jury, we had white people on this jury, we had men, we had women. What more can you ask for?”

Protesters, who remained peaceful, dispersed around 1 a.m.

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