TULSA, OKLAHOMA – The jury in the manslaughter trial of Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby has announced its verdict.
The jury found Shelby not guilty.
Jury deliberations began Wednesday afternoon. Shelby is charged with killing Terence Crutcher in September.
Betty Shelby, 43, was acquitted after a week-long trial. She denied race was a factor in the killing and insisted her actions were driven entirely by the behavior of the man she shot, Terence Crutcher, 40, after his car was left blocking a road.
Police videos of the incident were seen globally, and some civil rights advocates have argued that race was a factor. Rights advocates saw the Crutcher case as another in a string of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of the police in the United States that has spawned periodic protests and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lawyers for Shelby have said she believed that Crutcher may have been trying to reach through a partially open window for a weapon in the vehicle when she shot him.
“This is a tough pill to swallow. The facts were there. The elements were there. Terence’s hands were in the air. He was not an immediate threat,” Crutcher’s sister, Tiffany, said after the verdict.
Jurors were visibly emotional and some cried when the verdict was read by the judge some nine hours after they began deliberating.
Shelby said she feared for her life and she shot Crutcher because she thought he was reaching for a gun that was in his SUV which broke down on a Tulsa street. Crutcher did not have a gun.
Defense attorneys said Crutcher ignored Shelby’s commands.
Prosecutors said Crutcher did not make any aggressive moves.
Shelby testified during the trial.