Officer on trial: Jury finds Betty Shelby not guilty of manslaughter

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TULSA, Okla. - Quick facts:

  • Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Tulsa man.
  • The jury found Shelby not guilty of first degree manslaughter Wednesday.
  • During the trial, Fifth Street was closed in front of the courthouse. 
  • DOWNLOAD the FOX23 News App for the latest from the courtroom.

 

The trial is over for a Tulsa police officer accused of shooting and killing an unarmed man last year.

TIMELINE: FOX23 breaks down the trial so far

Wednesday, a jury found officer Betty Shelby not guilty of first degree manslaughter.

Shelby faced the manslaughter charge in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher in September 2016. She pleaded not guilty, claiming she fired in self-defense.

Police released video of the shooting in the days following the shooting.

RAW VIDEO: Dash cam and helicopter video from the scene (WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT) 


What the Defense Says


Defense attorneys say Shelby was justified in killing Crutcher after a toxicology report revealed he had both PCP and TCP in his system, though others say his drug use did not justify the shooting.

The ACLU claimed the move to justify Crutcher's death with with PCP levels dehumanized him, noting the presence of drugs in Crutcher's system did not necessarily indicate he was under the influence at the time of the encounter.

Shelby's attorneys also asserted Crutcher pointed a gun at someone in an area neighborhood the day before his death, but the Crutcher family attorney said Shelby's counsel was trying to "promote irrelevant information in an attempt to distract from undisputed facts that Officer Shelby shot and killed Terence Crutcher without provocation or justification."

Though police responded to the area, they said they did not find a crime and did not file an official report.


Public Reaction


The shooting and following investigation prompted public outcry from both sides of the issue, and high-profile figures like Al Sharpton participated in peaceful protests as they caught the attention of the nation.

FOX23's Jonathan McCall got a chance to talk to Sharpton during his stay in Tulsa.

Sharpton returned Wednesday for another rally that was billed a city-wide prayer and call for justice at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. 


Court Proceedings


In early 2017, pre-trial hearings addressed questions of evidence, including footage from a police helicopter, in which someone can be overheard saying that Crutcher looked like a “bad dude,” and testimony concerning Crutcher’s background.

Dozens of Crutcher family supporters filled the courtroom during the pre-trial motions, wearing t-shirts reading "Black Lives Matter" and "Justice4Crutcher."

Just days before the trial was set to begin, the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police filed an ethics complaint against Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler after they say Kunzweiler filed charges against Shelby without probable cause, and community members announced support for the district attorney.


The Trial Begins


The first day of the trial, the Tulsa FOP released a statement: 

“Today, Officer Betty Jo Shelby will go on trial for doing her job. The District Attorney charged her before the investigation was even completed. Police officers face dangers every single day. That pressure shouldn’t intensify because of concern about public opinion and activist prosecutors. Our officers stand by Officer Betty Jo Shelby and we hope that we can move past this political trial quickly so that every Tulsan can refocus on keeping our city safe and making it a great place to live and work.”

Potential jurors went to the courthouse for selection. Selection began with five pages of questions concerning the trial. 

A judge asked potential jurors about their exposure to media concerning the case.

A legal expert talked to FOX23 about the process, stating that the questionnaire is not unusual, and that each side is looking for a "model juror."

The court took steps to try to keep potential jurors from being influenced inside the courtroom, and anyone seen wearing a shirt with any writing on it was told to change or wear it inside out.

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Shelby did not attend the first day of trial. Though it was at first believed she would come to the courthouse after the jury pool took lunch, she never arrived. Her attorney said the decision was made because of space in the courtroom. 

Shelby did, however, appear during the second day of jury selection.


Jury Selection and Opening Statements


Day three of the trial opened with continued jury selection. Of the 70 in the pool, 17 were removed the first two days. 

Around 10 a.m., the court seated a jury pool of 14, including two alternates.

The seated jury includes two black women and one black man as an alternate juror, but the pool consists of mostly white men and women, including six white women and three white men. An Asian woman was also included in the final jury, and a Hispanic woman will act as an alternate.

In preparation for the case, the state released witness and evidence lists.

Opening statements finished just before 12:30 p.m.

Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray told jurors that Shelby acted hysterically and collapsed during her interview. Gray said jurors will see footage from the incident and officers, including Homicide Sergeant Dave Walker, will testify to her demeanor.

Shelby defense attorney Shannon McMurray, on the other hand, claimed that it was not her client, but the district attorney who acted in the heat of passion. McMurray said Shelby's 10 years of service without firing her weapon will speak for itself, and she claimed Shelby did not act out of fear, but did exhibit a human response.


Witnesses Take the Stand


WEDNESDAY:

Testimony began Wednesday. The jury also watched dash cam footage and videos from a police helicopter.

WATCH: Recap of Wednesday's testimony.
 
 

THURSDAY

Shelby's supervisor testified when he arrived on scene he told her not to talk to protect her rights. 

Tulsa police homicide sergeant Dave Walker took the stand in the afternoon and the state showed a 40 minute interview he did with Betty Shelby in the days after the shooting. 

See more the day's events here:

 
FRIDAY
 
The final witness testimony by the state came Friday, where Dave Walker called the entire case unusual. The Tulsa homicide sergeant said filing charges before the investigation ended was not odd, but that much of the DA's actions in the case were. CLICK to read more about that testimony. 

The state rested their case just before noon. 

MONDAY

Shelby took the stand Monday. 

While the defense sought to reference her years in law enforcement and the threat she perceived in Crutcher, prosecutors questioned Shelby about inconsistencies in her testimony and police interviews and emotional reactions during her time working as a police officer.

WATCH: FOX23's Preston Jones went through Shelby's testimony after she finished

Three other witnesses testified about prior interactions with Crutcher. They said they came into contact in 2012, when he allegedly resisted arrest. OSU officers said he resisted twice and refused to raise his hands.

Dr. Kris Mohandie, a clinical psychologist who boasts work with the Los Angeles Police Department, said he was paid $20,000 for his testimony Monday. Mohandie claimed Shelby's crying has nothing to do with her state of mind when the actual shooting took place. He also said there wasn't anything aggressive in Crutcher's behavior other than his reaching in the car.

Mohandie has a history in the entertainment industry, appearing in a number of shows.

An alternate, black juror also joined the jury after another member of the jury became sick. 

TUESDAY

Tuesday, the defense called two experts to testify, and Dave Walker, Tulsa police homicide sergeant, returned to the stand. 

After finishing questioning, the defense rested just before noon.

The defense also requested that the judge declare mistrial, but the judge declined to do so.

The court decided to end proceedings for the day and release the jurors until Wednesday morning. Then, they will hear closing arguments and likely receive their jury instructions. 

Representatives from Terence Crutcher's family testified in a separate hearing in the case. The jury was not present, and the attorneys brought up allegations regarding Shelby's past.

Shannon McMurray, Shelby's defense attorney, released a comment reacting to the allegations, saying:

"You know what my comment is? I'm not going to dignify that with a comment."

The state requested that jurors consider the lesser option of second degree manslaughter. The judge denied the state's request, stating he didn't find sufficient evidence for the lesser charge to apply.

Jurors will decide whether or not Shelby will be convicted of first degree manslaughter in the heat of passion, which comes with a maximum life sentence.


Closing Statements and Jury Deliberation


Wednesday, both sides delivered their closing statements, and jury deliberation began just after noon.

The Crutcher family and supporters gathered to pray for jurors.

The defense moved for mistrial again, but the judge denied their request.

The judge also told the jury they will not be able to explain how or why they reached their verdict.


Verdict and Reaction


Just before 10 p.m., the jury announced that they found Shelby not guilty of manslaughter after nearly 10 hours of deliberation.

People in a crowd outside the courthouse voiced their discontent with the verdict. Law enforcement responded to the scene.

The crowd took to the streets and marched to the Mayo Hotel, where Shelby was believed to be staying, chanting. They later blocked off Denver and marched toward Guthrie Green after police showed up in riot gear.

City officials said they will hold a news conference Thursday to discuss the jury's finding.

Mayor GT Bynum said the verdict does not change the city's recognition of Tulsa's history of racial disparities.

According to the Associated Press, Shelby's lawyer says Shelby is "elated and very proud of her jury."
  
McMurray says Shelby is ready to get back to her life.

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