Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, who on Friday shot and killed Terence Crutcher, has been charged with felony first-degree manslaughter, the Tulsa County district attorney announced Thursday afternoon.
If convicted, Shelby would face a minimum of four years in prison, and a maximum of life. Oklahoma law differentiates between murder and manslaughter largely on the matter of intent; manslaughter in most cases is homicide committed without the design to kill. In an affidavit, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler wrote:
Your affiant feels that Officer Shelby reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was not responding to verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she over reacted.
Kunzweiler said a warrant had been issued for Shelby’s arrest, and that negotiations were under way for her to surrender to the Tulsa County Sheriff.
Crutcher, who was black, was unarmed and had his hands up when he was shot. Shelby, who is white, gave a statement after the shooting saying that she feared for her life. She was placed on paid leave after the shooting. Shelby has worked for the Tulsa Police since 2011. Before that, she was a county sheriff’s deputy.