Policewoman charged over killing of black man in Tulsa

Officer Shelby faces at least four years in prison if convicted.
Officer Shelby faces at least four years in prison if convicted.

CHICAGO • Prosecutors in the southern US city of Tulsa have charged a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man with first-degree manslaughter.

The shooting of Mr Terence Crutcher on Sept 16, recorded by dashboard cameras and a police helicopter, led to heightened tensions between yet another US police department and African Americans.

In the video, the 40-year-old man is seen with his hands up, leaning against his car. He is then shot by officer Betty Shelby and falls to the ground. In a court filing, the Tulsa district attorney's chief investigator Doug Campbell said Mr Crutcher was shot when he was reaching into his car's driver-side front window.

Another responding officer used a Taser at the same time. Investigator Campbell also said Mr Crutcher was mumbling to himself and that officer Shelby had made statements after the shooting that she was "in fear of her life" during the confrontation.

"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 overreacted."

Mr Crutcher, who did not have a gun, died at a hospital from a single gunshot wound to the chest.

Officer Shelby was charged with a felony count of first-degree manslaughter, which carries a minimum sentence of four years in prison if she is convicted.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'Policewoman charged over killing of black man in Tulsa'. Print Edition | Subscribe