Tulsa Officer Betty Jo Shelby said she shot 40-year-old Terence Crutcher out of fear because he didn’t obey commands to lie on the ground and appeared to reach inside his SUV for what she thought was a gun.
However, Crutcher’s father, the Rev. Joey Crutcher, said in no uncertain terms: “Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder.”
Jurors reached their verdict after deliberating for just over nine hours.
A lawyer for Shelby said the officer was “elated” that the jury found her not guilty. “She’s ready to get back to her life,” defense attorney Shannon McMurray said.
The shooting unfolded on Sept. 16 of last year. Shelby said while she was headed to a different call, she encountered Crutcher near his SUV as it was stopped in the middle of a two-lane road. The officer testified that he refused to follow her commands — and after he reached his hands into the SUV’s open window, she fired.
Prosecutors told jurors that Shelby overreacted, arguing that Crutcher had his hands in the air and wasn’t combative. Dashcam video showed the man falling to the ground shortly after he appeared to reach into the SUV.
Protesters briefly blocked a street outside the courthouse after the jury announced its verdict, shouting “No justice, no peace,” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.” They also marched to the hotel where the officer was believed to be staying, Fox 23 reported.
An autopsy found Crutcher had PCP — a drug that can trigger hallucinations — in his system when he died.