This Is How White Privilege Works 101: Betty Shelby, the white Tulsa, Okla., police officer who shot an unarmed Terence Crutcher as he stood by his SUV in 2016, will be teaching a class about “surviving the aftermath” of an officer-involved shooting.
As Tulsa World reports, Shelby, who was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter in 2017, will be teaching the class at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. Shelby left the Tulsa Police Department following her acquittal, transferring to the Roger’s County Sheriff’s Office, where she is now a deputy.
Shelby has already taught this class a number of times, according to Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado. He added that no one involved in the class will get paid for it.
News of the class has angered activists in the area who say Shelby is exactly the wrong person to teach such a course.
“We applaud TCSO for giving officers a class to address their own mental health from an obviously stressful job, but we do not believe Betty Shelby is the right person to teach that course,” said Marq Lewis, leader of the grassroots organization, We the People Oklahoma.
He cited a note from the jury foreman at her trial, which pointed out that “many on the jury could never get comfortable with the concept of Betty Shelby being blameless for Mr. Crutcher’s death.”
Crutcher’s death was caught on video by both police dash cam and a police helicopter. The video shows Crutcher, a black man, walking away from Shelby with his hands up. In the background, one of the cops in the helicopter can be heard profiling Crutcher, saying “that looks like a bad dude.”
Crutcher’s body was facing his driver’s side window when Shelby fired; she claimed that she thought he was reaching for a weapon. She also claimed that race had nothing to do with her decision, telling CBS’ 60 Minutes in a 2017 interview that Crutcher “caused his own death” by failing with her comply to her orders to stop.
In Shelby’s version of events—she would also tell 60 Minutes correspondent Bill Whitaker that she felt a “lynch mob [was] after her” after the shooting—she was the victim of that deadly traffic stop.
So what will Shelby be teaching in this class, exactly?
According to Shelby’s attorney, Scott Wood, “the class is instruction to officers on how to plan, fiscally and mentally, for a critical incident similar to the one she was involved in in September 2016.”
“Betty will receive no compensation for the class,” he said. “Betty is, continues to be, and will always be a faithful public servant.”
That last part is precisely the issue.