ACLU of Oklahoma Responds to Charges Against Tulsa Officer Involved in Killing of Terence Crutcher
OKLAHOMA CITY – In response to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s announcement of the charge of manslaughter in the first degree against Officer Betty Shelby, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma released the following statements:
Please attribute to Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director:
“The manslaughter charge against Officer Shelby is welcomed and appropriate. We echo the Tulsa County District Attorney’s firm assertion that Officer Shelby is entitled to due process and presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“We are also heartened to see that, at least in this instance, law enforcement officers are not being held to a lower standard than the citizens they serve. Unfortunately, the due process of law that is rightfully granted to Officer Shelby was not afforded to Terence Crutcher, whose fate was decided in a matter of seconds with a handgun on a Tulsa street.
“Despite these charges we remain concerned for Tulsa’s communities of color and for Black Americans across this nation. The officers who callously failed to render immediate aid when Terence was shot and bleeding to death and the officer in the helicopter who referred to Terence Crutcher as ‘one bad dude’ are evidence of a dehumanizing culture we see all too often. As we continue to grapple with an epidemic of police brutality and killings that disproportionately affect people of color, we must not assume the conversation and the move towards desperately needed criminal justice and policing reforms ends today.”
Please attribute to Brady Henderson, Legal Director:
“Though welcomed and important, these charges cannot bring back Terence Crutcher nor can they on their own fix the broken relationship between police and communities they too often fail to protect. We commend the swift action of the District Attorney, and the Tulsa Police Department for their cooperation with this investigation, but remain insistent that the larger conversation of racial equality, over-policing of communities of color, and police brutality continue in a productive and meaningful manner.
“Setting aside for a moment the initial misinformation from the Tulsa Police Department, we believe it is worth noting that the Department’s decisions to release videos of the killing and for top leaders to speak to public concerns stand in stark contrast to recent decisions of some other departments around the nation to withhold information in time of community crisis, with disastrous consequences. Moving forward we encourage the Tulsa Police Department, the District Attorney, and the City of Tulsa to ensure this model of transparency continues to guide their decisions.
“Tulsa’s commitment to transparency must be matched by a commitment to fundamental changes in how police interact with communities of color. That change must begin with a simple realization that Black lives matter, and that Terence Crutcher was a man, not a target.”
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