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By Amber Randall
A jury acquitted a white Tulsa police officer of manslaughter charges Wednesday night in her 2016 fatal shooting of a black man.
The twelve jurors, nine white people and three black people, declared that Officer Betty Shelby was not guilty of first degree manslaughter charges in shooting Terence Crutcher, reports CNN.
“This is definitely a tough pill to swallow,” Tiffany Crutcher, Terence’s sister, said after the jury’s decision. “Terence’s hands were up. Terence was not an imminent threat. Terence did not attack her. Terence didn’t charge at her. Terence was not the aggressor.”
The jury tried to explain their decision, but the judge refused to let them. They could only declare their verdict, but were free to explain their reasoning to the public at a later time, the judge ruled.
Shelby fatally shot Crutcher, who had PCP in his system at the time of his death, after she came across his car parked along the side of the highway. Shelby maintained Crutcher did not listen to her commands to get on his knees; she said she shot him out of fear for her safety.
Prosecutors argued that Shelby “reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation” when they filed arrest papers. They also questioned why Shelby used a gun rather than a Taser.
Approximately 100 people gathered outside the courthouse to protest the decision late Wednesday night. Carrying posters, they chanted “No justice, no peace” and blocked traffic. Tulsa police officers warned protesters to get out of the road or “chemical agents may be used.”
Some protesters also gathered outside Shelby’s hotel, chanting “Bring her out!” “Bring her out!
“When is it going to stop – just officer-related shootings? When will the police change policy?” Marq Lewis, a local Oklahoma organizer, said.