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Tulsa Officer Charged with Manslaughter for Fatal Shooting Seen on Video

Sep 22, 2016 05:31 PM EDT
The white Tulsa police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man was charged with manslaughter on Thursday and a warrant has been issued for her arrest, Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler said.
Officer Betty Shelby of the City of Tulsa Police Department in Tulsa, Oklahoma is shown in this undated photo provided September 21, 2016. Photo courtesy of City of Tulsa Police Dept/Handout via REUTERS

TULSA, Okla. (Reuters) - The white Tulsa police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man was charged with manslaughter on Thursday and a warrant has been issued for her arrest, Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler said.

Officer Betty Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter for the death of Terence Crutcher, 40. The incident, captured on widely broadcast police videos, is one in a series that has raised questions of racial bias in U.S. policing.

"Although she is charged, she is presumed innocent until a judge or jury determines otherwise," Kunzweiler said. "I don't know why things happen in this world the way they do."

Crutcher, whose car had broken down and was blocking a road, can be seen in two videos provided by Tulsa police on Monday with his hands in clear view before he was shot by Shelby.

A lawyer for Shelby has said she acted because she feared for her life, believing Crutcher was reaching into his vehicle for a weapon during the encounter, which took place last Friday.

Tulsa police have said Crutcher was unarmed and there was no weapon in the vehicle. In a bid for transparency, they released the videos, one of which was taken from a police helicopter and the other from a dashboard camera in a patrol car.

The U.S. Justice Department has launched a separate investigation to see if the officers on the scene violated Crutcher's civil rights.

 

(Reporting by Lenzy Krehbiel-Burton; Writing Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)