Betty Shelby Won't Face Civil Rights Charges In The Death of Terence Crutcher
Betty Shelby, the Tusla, Oklahoma police officer who shot and killed unarmed Terence Crutcher alongside a highway was found not guilty of manslaughter, and now the New York Times reports she won't face Civil Rights charges either.
On Friday (March 1) the Justice Department concluded it found no evidence Shelby's force against Crutcher was “objectively unreasonable” under the outline set by the United States Supreme Court.
“Any allegation of law enforcement misconduct and willful deprivation of civil rights is taken seriously,” R. Trent Shores, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma said in a statement. "However, the evidence, in this case, did not support pursuing criminal prosecution. Moving forward, I hope that citizens and law enforcement will continue to work together to better our community.”
An attorney for Crutcher's family said the decision to not level any civil charges against Shelby who alleged she thought Crutcher was reaching for a gun at the time of the shooting, speaks to the flawed justice system.
“Part of the problem is the bias in our system against African-Americans, but the problem is also how the law is structured,” Damario Solomon-Simmons said in an interview. “It is almost an impossible burden to prove a federal civil rights violation, so it sets up the scenario where you get these disappointing but not surprising results.”
A wrongful-death lawsuit was filed against the city of Tulsa in June 2017. It's currently still pending.
In May 2017, six months after Crutcher's killing, Shelby was found not guilty. During the time after the shooting and prior to the trial, she was placed on paid administrative leave. After her acquittal, Shelby received back pay.
Soon after she began working part-time as a reserve deputy for a town 30 miles away for Tulsa. Last week she became a full-time employee working at the courthouse. Sheriff Scott Walton expressed no hesitation about hiring her.
“She has done a fine job and I am thankful to have her as part of our operation,” Mr. Walton said. “I’m not trying to be a cowboy here, I am just saying Betty continues to do her job and it is certainly my opinion that she served the community in Tulsa well.”