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Tulsa police officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher acquitted

[JURIST] Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the shooting of an unarmed black man on Wednesday. Terence Crutcher was fatally shot after his SUV stalled on the side of the road. Shelby testified [NPR report] that she feared Crutcher was under the influence of PCP, a hallucinogen that causes erratic, combative behavior. According to her testimony, Crutcher ignored the officers on scene and placed his hands on the SUV and began to reach inside when Shelby fired shots. Videos [CNN archive] from Shelby's dashboard camera and a police helicopter show Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his hands in the air. Shelby was arrested shortly after the videos were released.

Use of police force has been questioned on a national scale recently. Earlier in May the Dallas County Sheriff's Department [official website] issued an arrest warrant [JURIST report] for former Police Officer Roy Oliver over the murder of Jordan Edwards, a young black man. In 2015 Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged [JURIST report] with first-degree murder for the death of black teenager Laquan McDonald in October 2014. That same year an Ohio grand jury decided not to indict [JURIST report] two officers involved in a 2014 shooting resulting in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. Also in 2014 a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri, decided not to indict [JURIST report] police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in August of that year. In 2013 the UN Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent and the UN Special Rapporteur on racism called upon [JURIST report] the US government to finalize its investigation into the case surrounding the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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