Shelby indicted for first degree manslaughter in man’s death
The Associated Press and MSN are reporting that District Attorney Steven Kunzweiler filed first degree manslaughter charges against Tulsa Police Office Deputy Betty Shelby. She is the one who gunned down the victim, 40, on September 16.
Per our policy at Aiken Area Progressive, we do not identify crime victims unless the victim is well-known or a public servant. We will not yield on that policy in this case as the victim was neither at last word.
“I do not know why things happen in this world the way they do,” said Attorney Kunzweiler, adding that he determined first-degree manslaughter the appropriate charge. “We need to pray for wisdom and guidance.”
Numerous camera angles show the victim walking away from Deputy Shelby with his arms in the air. The footage does not offer a clear view of when Deputy Shelby fired the single shot that killed the victim. Her attorney claimed the victim was not following police commands and that Shelby opened fire when he began to reach into his SUV window.
It is important to note that refusal to obey police commands is not, under any circumstances, grounds for a law enforcer to commit an extrajudicial slaying.
The victim’s family immediately discounted claims from Deputy Shelby and her attorney, saying the father of four posed no threat to the deputies. They also pointed to an enlarged photo from police footage that appears to show the window in the victim’s vehicle was rolled up. Additionally, Tulsa police said that at no point in the video was the victim armed. They also said that he did not have a firearm in his vehicle.
Among the definitions in Oklahoma for first-degree manslaughter is a killing “perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.”
If convicted, Deputy Shelby could face a minimum of four years in prison.
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said police worked quickly to provide Kunzweiler with the information he needed to decide whether to charge the officer.
“I appreciate their efforts as well as the District Attorney’s usual thorough evaluation of the rules of law for which we are all accountable,” said Mayor Bartlett in a written statement. “These are important steps to ensure that justice and accountability prevails.
“We will continue to be transparent and ensure the system carries out its responsibility to provide justice.”
This past spring, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department Officer Robert Bates was jailed for four years after he was found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree in the death of a 44-year-old man of color.
Deputy Shelby is no stranger to run-in with the law. In 1993, she was arrested for criminal domestic violence after she and a former boyfriend got into a fight (the boyfriend was also charged with CDV). In 2002, she was served a restraining order by a woman married to one of her ex-boyfriends due to her constantly harassing the happily married couple.