In the most dramatic moment of nearly three hours of closing arguments on Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray told jurors that Terence Crutcher had been shot five seconds before a clip defense attorneys claimed showed Crutcher reaching into his vehicle.
“I didn’t think they would do it,” Gray told jurors, “but they did.”
During her closing argument, defense attorney Shannon McMurray had shown jurors 12 still frames from footage of Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby’s interaction with Crutcher last September.
During that encounter Shelby killed Crutcher, who was unarmed.
McMurray zeroed in on one of the frames and told jurors it showed Crutcher reaching into his vehicle and grabbing for what Shelby believed at the time was a firearm. When it was Gray’s turn, he told jurors to closely examine that video as they deliberated, because the moment McMurray discussed came a full five seconds after Shelby and TPD Officer Tyler Turnbough fired their weapons (Turnbough used a Taser) simultaneously.
McMurray said the video was time-stamped by the defense prior to being admitted into trial.
Gray’s statement brought together pieces of the state’s case it has previously mentioned but had not yet stated outright.
Turnbough testified last week that he was shoulder to shoulder with Shelby, and fired his Taser at almost the same instant she fired her gun.
Twelve seconds pass in the video, Gray said, between the gunshot and the moment when Crutcher falls to the ground, a long blood streak already staining his white shirt. That was because, Gray told jurors, Turnbough had Tased Crutcher twice, which forced the unarmed man to stand frozen next to his vehicle even after Shelby’s bullet had broken four of his ribs and left a 5-inch hole in his heart.
“Don’t let them get away with telling you something is on that video that’s not,” Gray said to the jury.
Turnbough testified that he had given Crutcher a full five-second Taser cycle, which caused Crutcher to rise up on his toes and tense up. When the five-second pulse ended, Turnbough said, he Tasered him again.
It was only then that he realized Crutcher had been shot, he said.
That could explain the appearance of Crutcher reaching into the vehicle, Gray said. Rather than trying to take something from the Lincoln Navigator, it could have been that Crutcher dropped his arms after being shot, and was then frozen in place by the Taser.
Jurors began deliberating at about noon.
More from closing arguments
McMurray told jurors it was hypocritical of District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler to criticize the testimony and truthfulness of police officers who testified in the trial, while yet depending on them for criminal convictions.
“(He) has the audacity to tell you that officers will come in here and lie to protect Betty Shelby, but then asks to bring officers here and put you, me, or other citizens in prison?” McMurray said. “Hypocritical.”
McMurray quoted John Adams and Martin Luther King Jr. at the beginning of her closing arguments. The latter quote drew scoffs from Crutcher family supporters who seemed to balked at McMurray’s using the black civil rights icon’s quotes to defend a white police officer in the racially-charged trial.
McMurray told jurors that Kunzweiler rushed to judgment in charging Shelby, and that DA’s Office investigator Doug Campbell’s affidavit, which called Shelby’s emotional state into question, was offensive.
“I’m offended and you should be too,” McMurray said. Some criticism has been levied at that affidavit, saying a term like “over emotional” is a dog-whistle sexist term.
McMurray said it was a “unique time,” and a “unique case,” but that ultimately the shooting was not criminal.
“It’s a sad choice, a tragic choice,” she said of actions she described Crutcher as having taken before the shooting. “That doesn’t mean it’s a crime.”
‘You have a right to ask why’
Kunzweiler gave the state’s first closing argument, and told jurors to question why the shooting was handled by police as it was.
He pointed out that officers immediately told Shelby not to speak following the shooting, an action that would be unusual in any other shooting investigation. He told jurors that an officer had previously testified that it was “not in the best interest of the police and the Police Department” for her to talk following the shooting.
“When an officer is telling another officer not to talk, it’s because they knew it was a bad (shooting) immediately,” Kunzweiler said.