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Oklahoma Cop Says Race Played No Role in Killing of Unarmed Black Man

by Tim Stelloh /
Image:
Tulsa, Oklahoma, police Officer Betty Shelby is charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher.Tulsa County via AP

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A white Oklahoma police officer charged with manslaughter in the killing of an unarmed black man in September said race was not a factor in the fatal shooting.

In an interview with CBS' '60 Minutes' published Sunday, Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby said she fired at Terence Crutcher, 40, on Sept. 16 "based on his actions, his behaviors. Race had nothing to do with my decision making."

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Video of the shooting showed Crutcher with his arms raised, slowly walking from the edge of a street north of Tulsa toward his SUV, which had been reported abandoned and left running in the middle of the road.

As Crutcher moved closer to his SUV, authorities said, he was uncooperative and tried to reach into his driver's side door. Another officer at the scene, Tyler Turnbough, Tasered Crutcher, and Shelby fired, striking him in the lung.

A toxicology report later showed that two hallucinogenic drugs, including PCP, were in Crutcher's blood during the encounter.

In the "60 Minutes" interview, Shelby said she felt as though Crutcher's "intent is to do me harm."

"I keep thinking: 'Don't do this,'" she said. "'Please don't do this. Don't make this happen.'"

When he reached through the vehicle's window, she told CBS, she repeatedly shouted for him to stop.

"That's when I took aim," she said.

The Crutcher family has disputed Shelby's recounting of events, saying physical and video evidence shows that the window was rolled up.

The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office concluded that Shelby became "too emotionally involved" in the encounter and overreacted. Six days after Crutcher's death, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler charged Shelby with first-degree manslaughter.

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