Tulsa, Okla., Officer Who Killed Terence Crutcher Says Race Had Nothing to Do With It

Betty Shelby (Tulsa, Okla., County Jail)
Betty Shelby (Tulsa, Okla., County Jail)

Tulsa, Okla., Police Officer Betty Shelby is insisting she was just doing the best she could in a bad situation, fatally shooting Terence Crutcher—an unarmed motorist—not because of his race but because of “his actions, his behaviors.”

CBS’ 60 Minutes snagged Shelby for her first interview since the 2016 shooting, and the segment is scheduled to air Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

In the interview, Shelby doubles down on her assertion that race had nothing to do with her decision to pull the trigger and that Crutcher caused his own death through his behavior and his failure to abide by her commands.


“I’m feeling that his intent is to do me harm, and I keep thinking, ‘Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Don’t make this happen,’” Shelby tells CBS’ Bill Whitaker.

Shelby describes how Crutcher, in her view, was “targeting” her, looking back and trying to assess her last-known location, in order to retrieve some perceived weapon and then shoot.

She says that Crutcher dropped his arms and reached into his car, alarming her.

“And it’s fast. Just that would tell any officer that that man’s going for a weapon ... I say with a louder, more intense voice, ‘Stop. Stop! Stop!’ and he didn’t. And that’s when I took aim.”


Although video of the incident is available, at the time of the shooting, Shelby and another officer were blocking the camera. There is also helicopter footage, but that angle was a bit too far away to discern what actually happened in the key moments.


What can be clearly seen in video, however, is that both of Crutcher’s arms are high in the air as he walks away from officers toward his vehicle before he is ultimately killed.

Shelby is facing charges of first-degree manslaughter, for which she has entered a not guilty plea.


Prosecutors accuse the officer of acting unreasonably when she shot Crutcher, who was stuck on a Tulsa highway after his vehicle broke down.


Tiffany Crutcher, Terence’s twin sister, is not having any of Shelby’s excuses.

“Of course she’s saying everything she’s supposed to say to defend herself. What we saw on that video is what my dad always taught my brothers, taught us to do if we were pulled over by a police officer,” Tiffany Crutcher tells the network. “‘Put your hands in the air and put your hands on the car.’ And my brother did what my father taught us.”


“We need our men and women in blue. But at the end of the day, they’re not warriors. They’re supposed to be our guardians,” she adds.

News Editor at The Root, animation nerd, soca junkie, yogi

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When to shoot someone: when they begin to raise a weapon in your direction.

When not to shoot someone: when you don’t know what they are doing, why they are doing it, if they are deaf, they have their back to you, and present no IMMINENT threat.

Either she is lying and her racial bias exaggerated the threat in her mind because he was black, or she is not lying and has no idea how to evaluate an imminent threat from a person regardless of color. Either way, she has no right carry a firearm; certainly not as a police officer.