Tulsa officer booked on manslaughter charge for shooting unarmed man

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 23, 2016 9:01 AM

By Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton

TULSA, Okla. (Reuters) - A white Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer who shot dead an unarmed black man whose car had broken down and blocked a road was booked on a first-degree manslaughter charge on Friday and released on $50,000 bond, online jail records showed.

Officer Betty Shelby, 42, was charged on Thursday for killing Terence Crutcher, 40, and faces at least four years in prison if she is convicted in the case that stoked simmering anger among those who see racial bias in U.S. policing.

Crutcher died of a penetrating gunshot wound to the chest, Oklahoma medical examiners said. They said a toxicology report had not yet been completed.

Shelby is scheduled for an initial court appearance on Sept. 30.

In a separate incident, Charlotte in North Carolina has seen three nights of protests, some of them violent, after the fatal shooting of a black man by police there on Tuesday. Police video have not been released in this case so as not to compromise the investigation, police said.

In two videos provided by Tulsa police on Monday, Crutcher can be seen with his hands in the air shortly before he was shot last Friday.

According to an arrest affidavit, Shelby escalated the situation and over-reacted. She was responding to a separate call for a domestic disturbance when she came upon Crutcher in the road.

Shelby told investigators Crutcher did not comply with her instructions and "that she was in fear for her life and thought Crutcher was going to kill her," according to the arrest affidavit.

Tulsa police have said Crutcher was unarmed and there was no weapon in the vehicle. In a bid for transparency, they released the videos, one of which was taken from a police helicopter and the other from a dashboard camera in a patrol car.

"She became emotionally involved to the point that she over-reacted," the affidavit said.

Police in Kansas City, Missouri are investigating an officer there who in a social media post praised Shelby for a "good shot," the Kansas City Star reported.

(Additional reporting by Laila Kearney in New York; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Grant McCool)