TULSA, Okla. (CN) – In opening statements Wednesday for the former Tulsa police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black motorist, the defense attorneys accused prosecutors of bringing charges too quickly out of fear of public backlash.
Betty Shelby, 43, faces up to life in state prison for killing Terence Crutcher, 40, in September last year after he failed to comply with her instructions as he walked toward her police cruiser in the middle of a street.
Crutcher is shown on police dashboard camera and helicopter video later walking away with both arms in the air toward his disabled SUV during the 3-minute-long incident. Shelby has insisted that she fired her drawn weapon out of fear he was reaching for a weapon inside the car – no weapon was found on Crutcher or in the car.
Crutcher has said she was scared and thought Crutcher was on drugs. A medical examiner concluded in October that Crutcher had “acute phencyclidine intoxication” when he died.
Also known as angel dust or PCP, the drug is known to alter moods unpredictably and cause paranoia.
Shelby’s attorney Shannon McMurray, of Tulsa, told jurors that Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler was the only person who acted out of fear in this case, when he charged Shelby too quickly. She accused him of filing the case before the police investigation concluded, and that he had his office’s investigator step in for the police investigator assigned the case.
McMurray said a female witness who called 911 said Crutcher screamed, “It’s gonna blow!” and reached under his seat. She said a second person who called 911 said, “I think something dangerous is going to happen.”
She told jurors that Shelby did not act unreasonably, that the officer gave Crutcher “every opportunity” to comply with her instructions. She said police are not trained to see what a person pulls from a car because “action beats reaction” every time.
Here’s what social networks say about this:
Mark Laythorpe Cops never take responsibility when they murder somebody. It’s ALWAYS somebody else’s fault…
Dani Taylor She «shot him out of fear.» If fear for your own safety outweighs someone’s rights and life, you should not be a police officer.
Matt Berry What’s even more fucked up is they let this bitch do an interview with 60 minutes to tell her side of story and it aired nationally with all of our local news promoting the interview so the jury pool is now extremely tainted so this bitch is gonna walk watch
Robert McDaniel Why did the cops back up like he was going to rise from the dead with a magical tek9? Also she said she feared for her life when tons of cops came, I heard on the radio taser is out then shots fired, she just killed him, to get her axe wings badges