Tulsa officer Betty Shelby fired the shot that killed Terence Crutcher who appeared to have his hands up in the air, as seen from the police dashcam and helicopter video taken near Crutcher’s vehicle, which was parked in the middle of the road.
While the Crutcher family’s attorneys claimed the window of the vehicle was up when Shelby shot Crutcher, Shelby’s attorney, Scott Wood, insisted that the window was open, and that Crutcher reached into it, failing to listen to several of Shelby’s commands — prompting Shelby to fire shots.
Shelby’s attorney and the Tulsa police department are standing behind her story.
Wood emphasised that the encounter between Shelby and Crutcher began more than a minute before the start of the released video.
A 911 caller reported that a man was running from an abandoned SUV parked in the middle of a street. Shelby came across the SUV and found Crutcher in the middle of the road on her way to respond to a different incident.
Shelby said she found it odd that the SUV’s engine was still running, since she assumed the vehicle would be either disabled or broken down, according to Wood.
Shelby then stopped and approached the car — the windows are open, the doors are closed, and no one was in the car — Wood said, adding that when Shelby turned around to look into the driver’s side, she saw Crutcher walking toward her.
“Hey, is this your car?” Shelby asked Crutcher, Wood said.
Crutcher didn’t respond, looked at Shelby, and began to reach to his left pocket. “Hey, please keep your hands out of your pocket while you’re talking to me. Let’s deal with [t]his car,” Shelby told Crutcher, Wood said.
When Crutcher remained unresponsive, Shelby asked him again to get his hand out of his pocket, Wood said. She didn’t order Crutcher to put his hands up in the air and found it strange when he did so.
Crutcher then kept reaching out for his pocket. Shelby, who couldn’t get Crutcher to talk to her, believed he was “on something,” Wood said, possibly the drug, PCP.
Shelby thought Crutcher was carrying weapon so she pulled out a gun instead of a Taser. She planned to arrest Crutcher for being intoxicated in public and possibly obstruction of justice, Wood said.
Shelby claimed to have repeatedly commanded Crutcher to stop walking toward the SUV, but the orders cannot be heard on the released video, Wood said.
“As a police officer, you have to wonder — why would someone ignore commands at gunpoint to get to a certain location?” Wood said.
Shelby believed that Crutcher was retrieving a weapon as his left hand allegedly reached into the driver’s window. Then Shelby fired one shot and another officer, Tyler Turnbough, used a Taser, Wood said.
“I was never so scared in my life as in that moment right then,” said Shelby in her interview with homicide detectives, according to Wood.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.