Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby's work history and past are now under scrutiny after the officer shot and killed Terence Cruther, a Black man who was unarmed with his hands in the air.
Tension is rising and protests continue following the shootings of Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott. While not much has come to light about the officer who shot Scott, Officer Brentley Vinson, Betty Shelby’s work history and past are under scrutiny after she killed Crutcher, who was unarmed with his hands in the air.
Here’s what we know about Officer Betty Shelby:
Dash camera and helicopter footage show Shelby shooting Crutcher.
Dashcam footage shows Crutcher walking to his car with his hand up before Shelby fires. Footage from the helicopter, which Shelby’s husband, an officer as well, was in, shows the same thing. In the video from the helicopter you can hear Dave Shelby and the unidentified pilot telling each other that they believe the “black dude” looks dangerous and “needs to be Tasered.”
Shelby, a drug-recognition officer, has admitted to using marijuana in the past.
Shelby’s attorney, Scott Wood, said that the officer had completed drug recognition training and believed Crutcher to be under the influence. Police say they did recover a vial of PCP from Crutcher’s vehicle. However, Shelby admitted on her application for the sheriff’s office in 2007 that she had engaged in drug use, reporting that she’s used marijuana twice at the age of 18 in social gatherings.
Despite her past with excessive force, there was never any disciplinary action taken against Shelby.
Shelby has been accused of excessive force twice, both complaints were determined to be unfounded. In 2002, her ex-husbands wife filed a protective order against Shelby after she allegedly made threatening phone calls to the woman. The protective order was denied with Shelby stating, “The Judge saw that I was not guilty of the accusations made against me.”
In 1993, Shelby and her boyfriend had restraining orders filed against them after they damaged each other’s vehicles during a break up. And no disciplinary action was taken in 2010 when Shelby and other officers pulled their weapons on a man who was trying to hide while a felony search warrant was being served.
Shelby was responding to a different incident before killing Crutcher.
Shelby and another officer were answering a domestic violence call when they came across Crutcher. According to her lawyer, Shelby spotted Crutcher in the middle of the road looking down at the ground with his SUV blocking traffic. Shelby’s attorney alleges that the encounter between Crutcher and Shelby began about a minute before what’s seen on video and that Crutcher allegedly refused to follow commands. In her interview with homicide detectives, Shelby said, “I was never so scared in my life as in that moment right then.”
WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.
Still, with video of the incident, we have to wonder what threat Crutcher, an unarmed black man with his hands in the air, posed to Shelby, an armed and trained police officer.
Police have opened a criminal investigation into the incident and the Department of Justice is operating a second, separate investigation.
You may like
Get The Essence Newsletter and Special Offers delivered to your inbox!