‘Doing her job and doing a good one:’ Months after acquittal, Betty Shelby quietly returns to patrol duty

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Betty Shelby, center, leaves the Tulsa County Courthouse in 2017 following testimony during her trial. Shelby, who left the Tulsa Police Department, has returned to full-time patrol work as a Rogers County Sheriff’s Office deputy. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier
Almost a year after she was acquitted in the on-duty shooting death of Tulsan Terence Crutcher, Betty Shelby has returned to patrol duty as a full-time deputy for the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office.

Shelby briefly remained at the Tulsa Police Department after her trial ended, though she was not allowed on patrol. She left TPD shortly later and last fall joined the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office as an unpaid reserve deputy.

Rogers County Sheriff Scott Walton told The Frontier on Monday that Shelby had become a full-time deputy “a few months ago” and has had no issues on the job.

“She’s doing her job and doing a good one,” Walton said. “When she came on as a reserve deputy, we talked about when she was ready maybe returning to patrol. She had some commitments she wanted to fulfill first, but she hit that point a few months ago where she was ready.”

Walton said Shelby has been fully embraced by the community in Rogers County, and he said he still routinely hears from people who are pleased with his decision to bring her onto the force.

“Not to make this a black or white or racial deal, but one gentleman, a black gentleman, approached Betty at QuikTrip and struck up a conversation with her and said ‘I know who you are and I appreciate what you do,'” Walton said. “No reason at all for us not to support her.”

Scott Wood, one of Shelby’s attorneys during her manslaughter trial, said that Shelby had been “invigorated” by the response she’d received while in Rogers County.

“I think she’s pretty happy right now,” Wood said.

Back to patrol

Shelby was acquitted in the Crutcher killing last May following a trial — and case — that dominated Tulsa headlines for months. Shelby faced a minimum of four years in prison had she been convicted. Her record was expunged not long after the trial.

Shelby, who is white, shot and killed Crutcher, 40, who was black, after encountering him and his SUV in the 2300 block of East 36th Street North. Crutcher was returning from a canceled class at Tulsa Community College and was unarmed, though Shelby testified she believed Crutcher was reaching through the window of his SUV and was afraid he was reaching for a weapon.

No weapon was found inside the vehicle. Crutcher’s autopsy report showed he had PCP, a powerful hallucinogen, in his system at the time of his death.

Following the trial, a juror spoke to The Frontier about the deliberations in Shelby’s trial and said that despite the acquittal, all the jurors agreed that Shelby “should never be a patrol officer again.”

He said all 12 jurors wrote a letter they intended to be sent to Jordan in which they stated their belief that Shelby should not be a patrol officer.

“There was a range of belief there,” he said. “Some of us thought she would be good behind a desk. She sounded like an excellent diver. I thought she would have made a great EMT.”

He said he felt that Shelby “was a fearful person,” and that the jury agreed someone with that mindset should not be on patrol.

“I don’t think she’s a bad person,” he said. “She just shouldn’t be a cop.”

The Trial of Betty Shelby

Nevertheless, Walton said he always believed in and supported Shelby. Though Shelby could not be reached for comment, Walton said he believed Shelby and her husband (former TPD helicopter pilot Dave Shelby) would say “they left Tulsa with certainly a feeling that (District Attorney Steve) Kunzweiler and (TPD Chief Chuck) Jordan damn sure didn’t have their backs.”

Walton said the people hurt most by “the treatment (Shelby) received from Kunzweiler and Jordan” were “the good people in north Tulsa who want aggressive proactive policing done, who want to keep the thugs out.”

“Those are the people who get crapped on,” Walton said. “I think a very, very effective, very small part of Tulsa turned their backs on her. Unfortunately two of them were Kunzweiler and Jordan.

“If you take that mob that’s running around Tulsa yelling and screaming, and you take the police chief and the district attorney out of that mix, I think everyone else supported her just doing her job. Unfortunately those two turned their backs on her.”

Contentious trial ends with acquittal of embattled Tulsa police officer

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Dylan Goforth

Editor in Chief/Staff Writer

Dylan is a news junkie and QuikTrip addict. He spends too much time on Twitter, but has launched what will be a failed attempt to cut back in 2018. Contact: dylan@readfrontier.com or 918-931-9405.
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