A jury on Wednesday acquitted a white Oklahoma police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black man in Tulsa last year.
Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby, 43, had been charged with manslaughter in the September 2016 shooting death of Terence Crutcher, 40, during a traffic stop.
The district attorney’s office announced a verdict had been reached shortly after 9 p.m. local time (10 p.m. ET), more than eight hours after deliberations began.
The manslaughter trial against Shelby opened May 10 with prosecutors laying out how the five-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department encountered Crutcher — what should have been a routine traffic matter that went too far, they said.
Instead, Crutcher’s death — another involving an unarmed black man at the hands of police — touched off Black Lives Matter protests and calls for greater transparency from local authorities.
Shelby was among the officers who responded to reports of a stalled SUV left abandoned in the middle of a road just after 7:30 p.m. local time, prosecutors said.
Police said Crutcher approached the vehicle but failed to listen to commands from officers. Shelby asked Crutcher if the car was his, but only mumbled to himself and didn’t respond, according to an affidavit.
Crutcher, who was unarmed, was seen walking to his car with his hands up before reaching into the driver’s side window. One of the officers fired his Taser at him. Shelby also fired her gun — striking the father of four in the lung, police said.
During the trial, Shelby testified that police training videos taught her to be careful about suspects pulling guns when they reach into their vehicles, according to The Associated Press.
She fired her weapon, she told a Tulsa County courthouse on Monday, because “I feared for my life.”
“I did everything I could to stop this,” she added. “Crutcher’s death is his fault.”
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