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Officer Who Shot Terence Crutcher Found Not Guilty

Last year, on September 16, 40-year-old Terence Crutcher of Tulsa, Okla. was shot and killed by Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby during a traffic stop. Shelby is said to have fired her gun out of fear because Crutcher did not obey her commands to lie on the ground and reached into his SUV for what she thought was a gun. Crutcher was unarmed.

On Wednesday night, after deliberating for nine hours, a jury acquitted Shelby of first-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutors based their case on Shelby overreacting and told jurors Crutcher had his hands in the air and was not combative. This was shown to be true by video taken from the police dashboard camera. A helicopter also shows Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his hands above his head.

Attorneys for Shelby said the two minutes before the dashboard camera began rolling, the officer ordered Crutcher to stop walking away from her and to get on the ground. Shelby also said she feared Crutcher was on PCP, a hallucinogen otherwise known as Angel Dust, which makes people erratic, unpredictable and combative. PCP was found in Crutcher’s system after an autopsy and a vial was found in his SUV.

The Crutcher family believes police tried to “demonize” Crutcher due to the drug possession so they could avoid the fact he did not have a gun.

Shelby’s attorney, Shannon McMurray, said the officer was “elated” to be found not guilty and is “ready to get back to her normal life.”

Chairman of the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police said the city would need time to make sense of this verdict.

“Tulsa is going to have to figure out how to get its arms around this,” he said.

The aftermath of this case is truly going to affect a lot of communities outside of Tulsa.