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Officer feels accepted 1 year after fatal shooting acquittal

May 17, 2018

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A former Tulsa officer is thriving in her new law enforcement role, despite some backlash after she was acquitted in the killing of an unarmed black man.

A jury acquitted Betty Shelby last year for the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher. Shelby shot Crutcher in 2016 when she came across his vehicle in the middle of a street while responding to an unrelated call. She has said she fired after Crutcher reached into his car window.

The shooting and subsequent trial led to nationwide protests and dialogue about police treatment of minorities.

Shelby was sworn in as a Rogers County reserve deputy in August after resigning from the Tulsa Police Department. She transitioned to full-time patrol duty in December, the Tulsa World reported.

Shelby said she felt anxious about how public perception could affect her job, but said Wednesday her reception in the county has been “overwhelmingly wonderful.”

But Marq Lewis, who leads local activist organization We The People Oklahoma and attended the manslaughter trial, condemned the decision to hire Shelby, saying she’s unfit to be an officer and that evidence presented by prosecutors showed she was “easily rattled” in stressful situations.

Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton has maintained Shelby’s innocence since before her trial and called her to join the county law enforcement. Walton has called out Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler and Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan for condemning an officer he believed followed policy.

“The criminal justice system that we as citizens embrace is built upon a process designed to uphold the rule of law,” Kunzweiler responded Wednesday. “Officer Shelby’s case was a case which this community needed to be resolved by a jury. The integrity of that process was demonstrated and ultimately fulfilled by the jury’s verdict.”

Shelby declined to comment on the shooting, citing pending litigation. The deputy is a defendant in a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging excessive force in Crutcher’s death. The lawsuit also accuses the city of Tulsa of racially biased policing.

A Tulsa County judge granted Shelby’s request in October to expunge her record of the manslaughter case.

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Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com

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