In a shocking announcement, the Justice Department decided that there is insufficient evidence that would allow them to pursue federal criminal civil rights charges against Tulsa Police Department officer Betty Shelby for the fatal officer-involved shooting of Terence Crutcher.
Officials from the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Oklahoma as well as officials from the Department’s Civil Right Division informed Crutcher’s family and their representatives of their decision on Friday.
Since the September 16, 2016 shooting of Crutcher, a team of the department’s most experienced civil rights prosecutors and agents with the FBI conducted a comprehensive, independent review of the events surrounding the 2016 shooting of Crutcher. All the State’s material and evidence that was generated by the Tulsa Police Department, The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Tulsa District Attorney’s office, including witness statements, all audio and video recordings, dispatch records, crime scene evidence, ballistics evidence, and medical reports.
After a careful and thorough review into the facts surrounding the shooting, federal investigators determined that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a violation of the federal statute. The evidence, when viewed as whole, is insufficient to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Shelby’s use of force was “objectively unreasonable” under the Supreme Court’s definition, nor is the evidence sufficient to rebut her assertion that she fired in self-defense with the mistaken belief that Mr. Crutcher reached into his vehicle in order to retrieve a weapon. The evidence is also insufficient to establish that Officer Shelby acted with the specific intent to break the law.
Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed. This decision is limited strictly to the department’s inability to meet the high legal standard required to prosecute the case under the federal civil rights statute; it does not reflect an assessment of any other aspect of the shooting.
Garrett Law Group
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