The white police officer who fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man whose car stalled in the middle of the road in Tulsa, Oklahoma last year, was found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter on Wednesday evening.
Jurors deliberated for nine hours before acquitting the officer, 42-year-old Betty Shelby.
Shelby was responding to an unrelated call on Sept. 16, 2016, when she approached Crutcher’s vehicle. According to CNN, Shelby said she fired at Crutcher, 40, because he reached into his car.
On Monday, she told the court that she feared for her life.
The Tulsa Police Department claimed that Crutcher failed to comply with orders from Shelby and the other officers who were on the scene. Videos of the incident, which captured several angles of the shooting, showed police with their guns pointed at Crutcher as he calmly walked toward his car with his hands above his head.
After the fatal shooting, Shelby was charged with felony manslaughter.
Her attorneys claimed she feared Crutcher was under the influence of PCP, a hallucinogenic drug. Police found PCP in Crutcher’s car, and an autopsy report later revealed that Crutcher had the drug in his system at the time of his death.
Crutcher’s family, who maintain that the shooting was unjustified, accused the police of using the drug possession to deflect attention from the fact that Crutcher was unarmed when police shot him, The Associated Press reported.
Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany told reporters after the shooting that he was a father who was just trying to make his family proud.
“That big bad dude was a father. That big bad dude was a son. That big bad dude was enrolled at Tulsa Community College,” Tiffany Crutcher said. She added that Crutcher “loved God” and would sing at church every week. Friends of Crutcher described him to The Associated Press as a friendly and generous person who went to church and was trying to turn his life around.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Shelby overreacted, and pointed out that Crutcher was not acting combative when he was confronted by police, per ABC News.
Crutcher’s family said they were disappointed by the verdict, NBC News reported, and called the Tulsa Police Department “corrupt.” At a press conference, Tiffany Crutcher accused police of a cover-up.
“All the elements of manslaughter was there,” she said. “Terence’s hands were up. Terence did not attack her, Terence did not charge her. Terence was not the aggressor, Betty Shelby was the aggressor.”
About 100 protestors who gathered outside of the courthouse yelled “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” after the verdict was handed down, the Tulsa World reported.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) then asked residents and protestors to respect the verdict and remain calm.
“Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions,” Fallin said in an official statement. “I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner.”
Hours later, peaceful demonstrators collected outside of the Mayo Hotel in downtown Tulsa, where Shelby is believed to be staying, per Fox 23 News.
CORRECTION: This article initially misstated that Shelby was found not guilty of first-degree murder; she was charged, rather, with manslaughter, as indicated in the headline.