During a news conference Thursday, Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler announced that his office has charged officer Betty Shelby in the Sept. 16 shooting death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, several news outlets reported.
“In the matter of the death of Terence Crutcher, I determined that the filing of the felony crime of manslaughter in the first degree against Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby is warranted,” Kunzweiler said.
According to an affidavit filed with the charge, Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was walking away from her with his hands held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over-reacted.”
Kunzweiler said arrangements were being made for Shelby’s surrender.
On a separate news conference, Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany Crutcher, said that the family welcomed the opportunity for justice. She implored protesters to remain peaceful.
“The chain breaks here,” Crutcher said. “We’re going to break the chains of injustice. We’re going to break the chains of police brutality.”
Video of the encounter between Tulsa police officers and Terence Crutcher went viral after it was released Monday, as it appeared to conflict with the police department’s claim that Crutcher, a black man, had failed to comply with officers’ demands.
Instead, it showed Crutcher holding his hands above his head as instructed and walking toward his car, which had stalled in the middle of the road.
“The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Crutcher are in the hearts and minds of many people in this community,” Kunzweiler said. “It’s important to note that despite the heightened tensions felt by all, which seemingly beg for an emotional response and reaction, our community has consistently demonstrated the willingness to respect the judicial process.”
If convicted, Betty Shelby could face a four-to-20-years prison sentence.