TULSA — The Tulsa police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, while responding to a stalled car has turned herself in to face a first-degree manslaughter charge, reports CBS affiliate, KOTV.Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced the charge Thursday. Officer Betty Shelby surrendered early Friday morning, was booked into the Tulsa County Jail and according to KOTV was immediately released on $50,000 bond.
Dash-cam and aerial footage released by police in Tulsa released , 911 calls and police radio traffic following Terence Crutcher’s shooting death on Sept. 16, showing Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his arms in the air.
The footage does not offer a clear view of the exact moment that Shelby fired the shot that killed Crutcher. Her attorney has said Shelby opened fire when the Crutcher began to reach into his SUV window.
Shelby admits she never saw any weapons or anything that might indicate Crutcher was carrying a weapon. Police say she simply ”became emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted.”
A police officer since December 2011, Shelby was answering a domestic violence call when she came upon Crutcher’s car stopped in the middle of the road with no one inside. Shelby failed to activate her dashboard camera when she exited her car, so there is no footage of what happened before other officers arrived.
According to the chief investigator, Shelby checked the car on both sides and determined it was empty. While she was on the passenger side, she spotted Crutcher walking toward her. The investigator says Shelby asked Crutcher if the car belonged to him and if it was disabled. His affidavit says Crutcher was “mumbling to himself” and did not answer Shelby’s questions.
The affidavit says Crutcher “kept putting his hands in his pockets” (but apparently never pulled anything out), and Shelby ordered him to show his hands. Crutcher raised his hands in the air and began walking slowly towards the vehicle. The affidavit says he did not respond to Shelby’s orders to stop.
Shelby pulled out her gun and followed Crutcher to the car. She pointed it at him, and at this time another officer arrived and told Shelby he had his Taser ready. Why she did not simply tell the other officer to fire the Taser if she thought Crutcher posed some kind of threat is not clear at this time.
The police dash-cam and aerial footage shows Crutcher approaching the driver’s side of the SUV, then more officers walk up and Crutcher appears to lower his hands and place them on the vehicle. A man inside a police helicopter overhead says: “That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something.”
Police say Crutcher then reached into the driver’s side front window, and the officer fired his Taser and Shelby fired her gun, killing Crutcher.
An aerial photo of the shooting aftermath shows Crutcher’s body lying on the ground next to the driver-side front wheel. The driver window appears to be reflecting light, which would mean that the window was closed, not open, at the time.
The officers surround Crutcher and he suddenly drops to the ground. A voice heard on police radio says: “Shots fired!” The officers back away and Crutcher is left unattended on the street for about two minutes before an officer puts on medical gloves and begins to attend to him.
Shelby later told police she was in fear for her life and thought Crutcher was going to kill her.
Police have not commented further on Shelby’s claim that the window was down and that Crutcher was reaching inside the vehicle when she fired, but a closer look at the photo shows a trail of blood running down the window, and down the driver side door where it appears to be pooling on the street at Crutcher’s feet.
Earlier this year, a former volunteer deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office was sentenced to four years in prison after he was convicted of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris.