A jury acquitted a white Tulsa police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man because there was no evidence the officer acted outside her training, the jury foreman said in a letter released Friday.
“The jury concluded that any officer put in that situation at that exact moment and regardless of the skin color, gender or size of the suspect, would have performed the same way, which is in accordance with their law enforcement training,” wrote the foreman, who was not identified by name.
The foreman emphasized officer Betty Shelby’s training throughout the three-page letter, which was made public through the court system “to placate the desire of various media members to interview members of the jury.”
Shelby had been charged with felony manslaughter in the September 16, 2016, death of Terrence Crutcher — a shooting captured on video and seen across the nation. She was found not guilty on Wednesday.
Could Taser have been used?
The jurors — nine white and three black — deliberated nine hours. They asked the judge to allow them to explain their thinking in open court but he said they could do that after court adjourned.
Agreement did not come easy, the foreperson wrote.
Some jurors “could never get comfortable” with saying Shelby was blameless in the death because it appeared she could have used a Taser in the moments before Crutcher reached into the vehicle, the letter said.
“However, there was no evidence presented that her extensive training allowed such an option,” the letter said. “The jury could not, beyond a reasonable doubt, conclude that she did anything outside of her duties and training as a police officer in that situation.”
During cross-examination, Assistant Tulsa County District Attorney Kevin Gray asked Shelby why she didn’t use her Taser.
Shelby said she believed her gun was an appropriate level of force. She said she “thought he [Crutcher] had a gun” because he repeatedly put his hands in and out of his pockets and…