TULSA, Okla. – The Latest on the not guilty verdict in the manslaughter trial of a white Oklahoma police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man (all times local):
Jurors who acquitted a white Oklahoma police officer of killing an unarmed black man last year say the officer could have used a less-lethal method to subdue him that could have saved his life.
The foreman of the jury that found Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty of manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher on Wednesday also says in a letter that jurors weren’t comfortable with the idea that Shelby was “blameless” in Crutcher’s death.
The three-page memo was filed Friday in court. The foreman and others don’t identify themselves in the memo.
Shelby’s defense attorney acknowledged that Shelby could have fired a stun gun instead of a firearm but said the officer had to make a “split-second” decision because Shelby thought Crutcher was armed. No gun was found.
Tulsa community leaders say the acquittal of a white Oklahoma police officer who killed an unarmed black man ripped open a long-festering wound.
From the mayor’s office to schools and churches, race relations have been terrible in Oklahoma’s second-largest city for well over a century.
So black community leaders on Thursday welcomed Mayor G.T. Bynum’s mention of racial disparities on the day after a jury of Tulsans found officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty of manslaughter. Shelby fatally shot 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in the middle of a city street after observing his disabled SUV in September.
Shelby said she fired her weapon out of fear because Crutcher ignored her commands to lie down and appeared to reach inside his SUV for what she thought was a gun.
But prosecutors said Shelby overreacted. They said Crutcher had his hands in the air and wasn’t combative, part of which was confirmed by police video taken from a dashboard camera and helicopter that showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby, hands held above his head.