Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby Charged With Manslaughter of Terence Crutcher

Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby Charged With Manslaughter of Terence Crutcher
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Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby Charged With Manslaughter of Terence Crutcher

The police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday has been charged with manslaughter, prosecutors announced on Thursday afternoon.

Tulsa County's district attorney, Steve Kunzweiler, said he had filed a first-degree manslaughter charge against Betty Shelby, the white police officer who killed Terence Crutcher last week.

"The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Crutcher are on the hearts and minds of many people in this community," Kunzweiler said during brief remarks before he announced the charges.

"Despite the heightened tensions felt by all--which seemingly beg for an emotional response and reaction--our community has consistently demonstrated a willingness to respect the judicial process."

A court filing by prosecutors said Shelby "unlawfully and unnecessarily" shot Crutcher because he was refusing to comply with her orders.

Shelby "reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation", according to an affidavit from Doug Campbell, Kunzweiler's chief investigator, who alleged that she became "emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted".

Kunzweiler said a warrant has been issued for Shelby's arrest and "arrangements are being made for her surrender to the Tulsa County sheriff's department," where Shelby was previously employed.

Shelby shot Crutcher, 40, in the right side of his chest during an encounter beside Crutcher's SUV on 16 September.

The officer came across Crutcher and his vehicle, which had apparently stalled in the middle of a street, on her way to an unrelated report of domestic violence, according to police.

The charging affidavit said Crutcher walked toward the officer, who asked him if the vehicle belonged to him. "He was mumbling to himself and would not answer any of officer Shelby's questions," it said.

Crutcher allegedly kept putting his hands in his pockets. After being ordered to show his hands, Crutcher began walking toward the vehicle with his hands held up while ignoring orders from Shelby to stop.

Authorities initially claimed Crutcher had also refused to obey Shelby's commands to put his hands up. Dashcam video footage, however, showed Crutcher with his hands in the air moments before being shot.

Prosecutors said Crutcher was shocked with a Taser by a second officer and shot by Shelby immediately upon reaching for his vehicle driver's side window.

"Although Mr Crutcher was wearing baggy clothes, officer Shelby was not able to see any weapons or bulges indicating and weapon was present," Campbell said.

In a press conference, Crutcher's twin sister Tiffany said that although she was pleased that Shelby had been charged, "we understand that nothing will bring him back."

"Full justice requires not just charges but a vigorous prosecution and a conviction," said attorney Demario Solomon Simmons. "Not only for this family, not only for Terence, but so it will be a deterrent for law officers all around this nation to know you cannot kill unarmed citizens."

The case is the second high-profile killing of an African American man in as many years in Tulsa to result in charges filed against law enforcement. Last year, Kunzweiler charged a 73-year-old reserve sheriff's deputy with second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting Eric Harris, an unarmed black man.

The deputy, Robert Bates, claimed he mistook his gun for his Taser when he opened fire. Body camera footage from the shooting showed Harris struggling and telling officers "I'm losing my breath," to which one responded: "Fuck your breath." Bates was found guilty earlier this year and has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Amid unrest in North Carolina over a separate killing of an African American man by police, the shooting of Crutcher has been widely criticized. Even the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who has declared himself "the law and order candidate" and criticized the Black Lives Matter protest movement, said he was "very, very troubled" by the incident.

An attorney for Shelby has told reporters Crutcher refused to comply with repeated commands from the officer in the 90 seconds before the video recording released to the public.

A first-degree manslaughter charge carries a sentence of at least four years in prison. Crutcher's death remains under investigation by federal authorities.

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  • 来源: 2016-09-30