A jury has declared police officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty of manslaughter after she shot and killed Terence Crutcher.
After hearing closing arguments in Shelby’s trial Wednesday morning, jurors had deliberated since noon, taking just over nine hours to arrive at the verdict for the killing that sparked nationwide outrage.
The victim’s father, Rev. Joey Crutcher, told media outside the courtroom that Shelby “got away with murder.”
The jury’s makeup was eight women, four men, with nine white people and three black people, according to the Tulsa World. At least four of the jurors broke down in tears as they left the courtroom.
“This was a very difficult case with lots of difficult issues,” Judge Doug Drummond said before the decision was announced. “I hope everyone can acknowledge that.”
He added, “I’m asking you to trust the system.”
Following the announcement of the verdict, a group of people protesting the decision to let Shelby walk free approached the front door of the Mayo Hotel to demand the officer come out, the protesters apparently under the impression Shelby was inside.
As a pastor began to address the crowd, protesters moved out into the street, blocking traffic on Denver Avenue, the Tulsa World reported.
Police issued a warning that “chemical agents will be used” if the group didn’t leave.
Finally, around 12:20 a.m. Thursday, the line of protesters broke and people began to leave the area.
In their closing arguments, prosecutors noted that the other officers around her knew it was a “bad shoot” after she killed the unarmed man.
Shelby stopped after seeing Crutcher, a 40-year-old father of four, in the middle of a road on Sept. 16, opening fire after he refused commands to lie down.
The officer, 43, has claimed she believed that the motorist, whose hands were seen up in video of the shooting, may have been reaching into his car for a gun.
She has also claimed Crutcher appeared to be high, with a vial of PCP found in his car and the drug found in his system during an autopsy.
However, no gun was found, and prosecutors say he posed no threat to officers and did nothing aggressive.
Shelby, who also said that she relied on her training when deciding to shoot rather than use a Taser, said in an interview last month that Crutcher caused his own death.
However, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said that other officers knew the shooting was wrong immediately afterwards, with a fellow cop telling Shelby “not to say a word.”
The officer potentially faced life in prison had she been convicted.
With News Wire Services