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Jury acquits Tulsa cop in shooting of unarmed black man

Jury acquits Tulsa cop in shooting of unarmed black man

A jury on Wednesday acquitted a white Oklahoma police officer who says she fired out of fear past year when she killed an unarmed black man who had his hands above his head.

Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Officer Betty Shelby, 42, charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, is shown in this Tulsa County Jail booking photo in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S., September 23, 2016. About 100 demonstrators later gathered outside the courthouse and some briefly blocked a main street.

The decision to shoot Crutcher, who was acting bizarrely and repeatedly failed to obey commands, stemmed from Shelby's police training, the officer testified during her manslaughter trial Monday.

Prosecutors argued that Shelby overreacted, given that Crutcher had his arms up and was not combative.

In the videos, Crutcher can be seen with his hands in the air and walking away from Shelby before he was shot.

An autopsy showed PCP was in Crutcher's system, and police said they found a vial of it in his SUV.

"Terence was not the aggressor; Betty Shelby was the aggressor", she said.

Tiffany Crutcher, Terence's twin sister, called the verdict "a tough pill to swallow", according to KFOR. No weapon was found on Crutcher or in the auto.

Shannon McMurray told the jury her client responded appropriately to a "rapidly evolving, tense and stressful situation".

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She said Crutcher put his hands on the SUV and then moved to reach into the vehicle.

"I did everything I could to stop this", she added.

Her police training taught her that "if a suspect reaches their hands inside of a auto, don't let them pull them out", she testified.

Shelby testified Monday that she fired her weapon because "I feared for my life". He alternated between putting his hands in his pockets and putting them in the air, Shelby said.

After calling dispatch to send another officer to that initial domestic call, she approached the vehicle, and glanced in the window but saw no one, she said.

But Benjamin Crump, an attorney representing the Crutcher family, said Crutcher's window was rolled up, making it unlikely he was reaching into the vehicle. McMurray said while Crutcher's death is a tragedy, it's not a crime.

Frank also criticized the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police, which filed an ethics complaint with the Oklahoma Bar Association against Kunzweiler for allegedly charging Shelby too quickly due to public and political pressure.

The fatal shooting, captured from several angles on video, was one of a number of police shootings of unarmed black men across the United States in recent years that have heightened concerns about possible police misconduct.

Her husband Dave Shelby was piloting a police helicopter that was hovering over the scene of the shooting.


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