Betty Shelby leaves the Tulsa County Courthouse on Thursday, May 11, 2017. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

It’s unknown if Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby will testify in her first-degree manslaughter trial, but jurors on Thursday viewed an hour-long video interview Shelby had with Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker three days after she fatally shot Terence Crutcher.

A distraught Shelby alternates in the video between sobbing, screaming, sitting on the floor weeping and finally sitting still, appearing to be emotionally drained.

Sitting next to Scott Wood, her attorney, Shelby becomes increasingly emotional as she recounts the moments that led up to her fatal encounter with Crutcher last September. She describes seeing Crutcher on the side of the road looking like a “zombie,” before she came across his vehicle that was parked in the middle of the street in north Tulsa.

Shelby tells Walker that her first thoughts when she saw Crutcher were that he was “very tall … a very large man, about 300 pounds.”

According to Crutcher’s autopsy report, he was 5-feet, 9-inches tall and weighed 254 pounds.

Shelby’s voice immediately rises as she begins to describe her interactions with Crutcher.

“Hey man, is this your vehicle?” she yells repeatedly to Walker, recounting what she’d said to Crutcher. Each time she repeats the line, her voice grows louder.

Later in the video, she tells Walker how Crutcher was walking away from her with his hands in the air.

Screenshot from Tulsa Police Department’s video of Terence Crutcher being fatally shot on September 16, 2016.

“I’m thinking I’m by myself, he’s very big, he’s intoxicated,” she tells Walker. “I’m thinking he’s got a weapon in his pocket.”

At this point in the video interview Shelby begins to cry.

“I said, ‘Get on your knees,'” she screams, “and he’s not doing it.”

“I thought he was going to kill me,” she says. “I’ve never been so scared.”

At this point Shelby, who had been standing and walking around the small interview room at the Police Department, collapses onto the ground in tears. Walker walks out of the room, leaving Wood to console Shelby.

“You’ll be OK, just breathe,” Wood tells her.

When Walker returns to the room he asks Shelby if she had only fired her gun once that night.

“Yes,” she replies.

“What was (Crutcher’s) reaction?” Walker asks.

Shelby replies: “He stopped.”

Last September when Shelby was charged, District Attorney’s Office investigator Doug Campbell said in his affidavit he believed she became too “emotional” when she encountered Crutcher, which led to the shooting. Prosecutors have told jurors that Shelby killed Crutcher unnecessarily and then received preferential treatment from investigators afterward because she is a police officer.

Confusion over assistance
Shelby also said in the video that she had no idea there were backing officers next to her when she shot Crutcher.

On Wednesday, TPD Officer Tyler Turnbough testified that he saw Shelby had her gun out and drew his Taser so there would be a less-lethal option. Turnbough said he told Shelby he had his Taser drawn, and she acknowledged his statement.

But in the video shown on Thursday, Shelby told Walker that she thought she was all alone when she fired one bullet at Crutcher, striking him below the right armpit.

TCC employees testify

Two Tulsa Community College professors testified Thursday to talking to a “normal,” “not unusual” Crutcher the night of the shooting, less than an hour before he eventually encountered Shelby.

Crutcher was enrolled in a TCC music appreciation class, but arrived on the campus that night unable to find the classroom. Eventually he met Sharolyn Wallace, a teacher there, who offered to help.

Wallace said Crutcher logged into the school’s computer system using a personal 10-digit code and password, and they discovered his class had been canceled. Another teacher who was there, Michelle Ogan, said Crutcher appeared to be in good spirits, even though he was upset his class was canceled.

Crutcher told them he had walked around the campus for more than an hour looking for his class, Ogan said.

“When he was leaving I hugged him and said, ‘You can make lemons into lemonade, because you got a lot of exercise today,'” Ogan said.

Both teachers testified that Crutcher did not appear intoxicated and was not acting unusual. They saw the next night on the news that he had been killed, and when they arrived on campus on Monday they documented their meeting with him.

Deadly wound

Dr. Andrea Wiens, who conducted Crutcher’s autopsy, testified Thursday that the bullet struck him below the right armpit and traveled all the way through his body before resting on his left side.

The bullet traveled a downward path, she said, fracturing ribs and puncturing straight through Crutcher’s heart. The wounds were so severe, she said, that had Crutcher been shot like that in an operating room with a transplant heart waiting on him, he still would have had almost zero change to survive.

She said she couldn’t explain why the bullet traveled at a downward angle. Crutcher was only 5-feet, 9-inches tall, but he was still taller than Shelby. He may have been hit by Turnbough’s Taser first, fallen a bit, then been struck by the bullet.

He could also have angled his body strangely just before the shooting. Or, she concluded, the bullet could have just followed a strange trajectory through his body after cracking four of Crutcher’s ribs.

What’s next

Walker’s testimony is expected to wrap up early Friday, and prosecutors should rest their case not long after. Shelby’s attorney, Shannon McMurray, said none of her three expert witnesses would be available Friday, but that she could have “four to seven” other witnesses ready to go. That timeline could put the case in front of the jury at some point in the middle of next week.

Subtle support

Supporters of both Shelby and Crutcher have been told not to wear clothing with names or faces on it into the courtroom, or to turn shirts that say “Black Lives Matter,” inside out. On Thursday, five people seated near Shelby’s family wore either a blue shirt, a blue dress, or even blue fingernail polish. One woman had a black wristband with a blue line through it, a nod to “supporting the Blue,” a term for police.

But a woman on Crutcher’s side of the courtroom wore all blue too, down to her shoes and even her purse.

“Blue is a happy color,” she said.

Our original story from Thursday is below.

A Tulsa Police Department supervisor testified Thursday to telling Shelby “not to say a word” until she had retained legal representation because she is white and the person she shot was black.

Cpl. Wyett Poth said he was one of two supervisors on duty the night Shelby shot and killed Crutcher.

Poth testified he knew Shelby and could tell by the tone of her voice on her radio transmissions that night that something was wrong.

He said that when he arrived at the scene, he “guessed” Shelby had been the shooter based on her radio transmissions and the fact that she was “separated from the other officers.”

“I told her not to say a word,” Poth testified. When asked why he would advise Shelby to not speak to investigators, Poth said: “I knew there would be a group of people who wouldn’t like what happened simply because of the color of (Shelby’s) skin.”

Terence Crutcher is pictured with his father, the Rev. Joey Crutcher, in an undated family photo. Courtesy

That comment drew gasps from the two dozen or so supporters and family members of Crutcher’s who were seated in District Judge Doug Drummond’s courtroom.

Prosecutors have repeatedly attempted to point out that Shelby received preferential treatment after the shooting because she is a police officer. During jury selection, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler told jurors that race “is an issue in this case.”

So after Poth made his statement to Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray, Gray asked him again if race “was a factor.”

“Yes, because of the mood and tone of America,” Poth replied.

The theory that charges were filed against Shelby because of both political and public pressure has been around since last September. The shooting happened Sept. 16, 2016, and charges were filed six days later — one day before Sgt. Walker anticipated sending the completed investigative report to Kunzweiler’s office.

Kunzweiler has maintained he was reading pieces of the report as they were completed and did not need the final bit of the report to feel comfortable charging Shelby with first-degree manslaughter.

Testimony continues
Five police officers testified before lunch on Thursday, and most of the testimony has focused on evidentiary minutiae. The officers who have testified so far have all been crime scene investigators tasked with photographing the scene following the shooting, as well as collecting and preserving evidence.

Prosecutors have asked every officer so far if he or she found a weapon on Crutcher or inside the vehicle following the shooting. Prior to the trial, the defense argued that Shelby had no way of knowing if Crutcher, who video shows reaching through the half-open driver’s side window of his Lincoln Navigator when he was shot, was attempting to grab a weapon.

Every officer has so far answered no, that no weapons were found inside or outside the vehicle. However, McMurray asked Det. Angela Bax if a running vehicle with keys in the ignition “could be a weapon.” Previous testimony indicated the vehicle was running and music was coming from the speakers even after Crutcher had been shot.

“Yes,” Bax replied.

Joseph Campbell, the final witness prior to the trial breaking for lunch, was asked by Kunzweiler if he saw a weapon in the vehicle. Campbell said he had not, but noted he had recovered a number of school books and notebooks in the vehicle.

McMurray later asked Campbell to look at a picture taken of the center console in Crutcher’s SUV and pointed to a “yellow-handled thing” buried in a collection of DVDs and other items.

Campbell asked McMurray if she meant “the screwdriver.”

“Could that be considered a weapon?” McMurray asked.

“Yes,” Campbell replied.