A female Tulsa police officer was charged with first-degree manslaughter Thursday in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man that caused mass rioting in North Carolina.
Fox News reported that Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler filed the charge against Officer Betty Shelby after viewing dashcam video and helicopter video of the Sept. 16 shooting, according to a statement from his office.
The statement said Kunzweiler reviewed 911 calls, witness interviews and other information before making the decision to charge Shelby. Kunzweiler said arrangements were being made for Shelby’s surrender.
“I do not know why things happen in this world the way they do,” Kunzweiler said, adding that he determined first-degree manslaughter the appropriate charge. “We need to pray for wisdom and guidance.”
Video from the shooting and its aftermath showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his arms in the air. The footage does not offer a clear view of when Shelby fired the single shot that killed Crutcher. Her attorney has said Crutcher was not following police commands and that Shelby opened fire when the man began to reach into his SUV window.
Crutcher’s family immediately discounted that claim, saying the father of four posed no threat to the officers, while also pointing to an enlarged photo from police footage that appears to show Crutcher’s window was rolled up.
Police have said Crutcher did not have gun on him or in his vehicle.
“The tragic circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Crutcher are on the hearts and minds of many people in this community,” Kunzweiler said. “It’s important to note that despite the heightened tensions felt by all, which seemingly beg for an emotional response and reaction, our community has consistently demonstrated the willingness to respect the judicial process.
Among the definitions in Oklahoma for first-degree manslaughter is a killing “perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.”