A jury on Wednesday acquitted a white Oklahoma police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man last year, sparking outrage from the man’s family and supporters.
Tulsa Officer Betty Jo Shelby says she shot 40-year-old Terence Crutcher out of fear because she said he didn’t obey commands to lie on the ground and appeared to reach inside his SUV for what she thought was a gun.
However, Crutcher’s father, the Rev. Joey Crutcher, said in no uncertain terms: “Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder.”
Jurors reached their verdict after deliberating for just over nine hours.
A lawyer for Shelby said the officer was “elated” that the jury found her not guilty. “She’s ready to get back to her life,” defense attorney Shannon McMurray said.
Prosecutors told jurors that Shelby overreacted, arguing that Crutcher had his hands in their air and wasn’t combative.
The defense attacked prosecutors for charging Shelby with first-degree manslaughter just six days after the shooting, saying the case was rushed.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said defense attorneys know it was “a bad shoot.”
The shooting was among several officer-involved shootings in recent years that helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement and prompted calls for more police accountability.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.