"Zombie" Lies By Oklahoma Cop Betty Jo Shelby, Killer of Crutcher

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Shelby on 60 Minutes -- Patrolling "zombie" neighborhoods

In a 60 Minutes interview which aired last Sunday, Oklahoma Police Officer Betty Jo Shelby who has been charged with manslaughter for the unjustified killing of Terence Crutcher, last September, in Tulsa Oklahoma, used the standard "he-looked-like-a-zombie" line.

Recall that's a variation of the he-looked-demonic line that got Officer Darren Wilson off the hook after he killed unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Shelby denied race was a factor when she pulled the trigger—and blamed the victim for his death.

This interview illustrated, among other things, the disrespect police have for Black lives. It showed yet another callous officer refusing to take any responsibility for her reckless deadly actions. She pisses on his grave by blaming him for his death.

She definitely seemed to have told some tall tales. One of her claims—about where she was when she first encountered Crutcher, after she first passed him along the road in the police car—seems definitely inconsistent with what the police video shows.

It’s a glaring discrepancy we’ll get back to soon enough.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Shelby, whose trial starts in May, claimed she has regrets over the killing of Crutcher. But not surprisingly though, she did what police officers do when they kill innocent Black people: she blamed the victim for causing his own death.

"I have sorrow that this happened, that this man lost his life, but he caused the situation to occur. So in the end, he caused his own," death, she said. Shelby claimed she was in fear for her life when she fired her gun. "I'm feeling that his intent is to do me harm and I keep thinking, 'Don't do this. Please don't do this. Don't make this happen,” she said.

How convenient that only she knows what could have been going through her mind. We can only judge her actions.

Worse of all though, Shelby sought to criminalize Crutcher—an essential part of the police playbook of deflecting blame onto Black people when they kill us—by saying he looked “zombie like” and that “his actions dictated mine.”

Shelby said she first encountered Crutcher just walking in the road as she drove by him on the way to answering a domestic dispute call. She noted his size and demeanor—and somehow, decided in those few seconds that Crutcher looked like he was on PCP to her—“zombie-like,” in her words. It's amazing that this racist projection is repeated with ease on national TV.

Some time, after passing him, she says she saw what appeared to be an abandoned or broken down car and pulled over to investigate. After getting out and looking into the driver side of the car—she said to see if there was someone hurt inside—she claims she then saw Crutcher approaching.

She said she asked him “hey man, is this your vehicle?” She then says he “mumbled something” and started to put his hands in his pocket—which she claims she told him not to do. She then admits Crutcher put his hands into the air—but, then says she decided to radio in for help because, presumably, he started to put his hands in his pockets again and was moving away.

Officer Shelby claimed she told Crutcher to stop moving away but he didn’t and she thought he was going for a weapon. So in her mind since he was Black, by "moving away," he was committing a crime.

"And it's fast. Just that would tell any officer that that man's going for a weapon," she said. "I say with a louder, more intense voice, 'Stop. Stop! Stop!' And he didn't. And that's when I took aim."

In another example of the cavalier manner in which police rob innocent Black lives, while expecting no punishment or penalty for their actions, Shelby says she was only charged because Tulsa officials feared unrest. Shelby was the only one of four officers present who fired on Crutcher—although, one fired a Taser. So, what made her decide to shoot this innocent man, when other officers, right next to her, didn’t?

Can you imagine this type of person being allowed back on the streets with a gun?

Crutcher’s family now has to deal with the devastating loss his death will have on their family because of the reckless actions of this officer. Crutcher has four children who have been robbed of their father forever—while Officer Shelby will go home to hers.

Crutcher’s twin sister defended her brother’s actions from the slanderous accusations that have been made. "What we saw on that video is what my dad always taught my brothers, taught us to do if we were pulled over by a police officer," Tiffany Crutcher said. "Put your hands in the air and put your hands on the car. And my brother did what my father taught us."

Tiffany Crutcher said she is happy with the manslaughter charges that have been filed. "I am. I don't believe she woke up that morning and said, I'm going to go and kill Terence Crutcher. I believe that she choked and she pulled the trigger and she killed him."

"My brother's dead because she didn't pause," Crutcher said. "There was absolutely no justification whatsoever, with all the backup, for Officer Shelby to pull that trigger. No justification whatsoever."

One particular answer by Officer Shelby shows the deadly disregard some White police have for Black lives.

During the interview, reporter Bill Whitaker asked Shelby, if she thought about shooting Crutcher in the leg. Her response was “No. And I’m not trained to shoot someone in the foot. We don’t train to be cowboys and to be like what they show on the movies.”

In other words, is she telling us police are only trained to shoot to kill? If true, that alone would be reason enough to demand retraining. But we all know this is nonsense. Do we really believe she would have shot a White man down dead—under similar circumstances, who was in need of help because of a broken down car?

Of course, Officer Shelby tells us race had nothing to with this shooting and claimed Mr. Crutcher’s “actions dictated mine.” That assertion is called into question by several things—including the comment that was made by one of the two officers --the other was apparently Shelby’s husband-- who were hovering overhead just before she killed Crutcher. One of the officers can be heard saying that looks like a “bad dude.” What was the clue? He was a Black man.

On what other basis could've such an assessment been made? Crutcher was walking in the “hands up, don’t shoot” posture. So if he wasn’t being profiled as a big Black man, then what caused him to be characterized by these cops as a “bad dude.”

Shelby claims she sized him up as someone possibly on PCP. Did she say this because she knows her police partners planted drugs in Crutcher’s car?

Because of the “Blue Wall of silence,” and the police penchant to lie and cover-up for their fellow officers, the credibility of police has been destroyed. All possibilities must now be considered.

Which leads us to one major inconsistency in Officer Shelby’s 60 Minutes testimony.

Remember, how she said that after first passing Crutcher on the road she next encounters him approaching her after she had just looked into the “driver’s side” window of Crutcher’s car? Well, this claim does not square with what we see on the police video.

On the video, we see Officer Shelby—and her fellow officers—behind Crutcher, as he is walking toward his car before Shelby shoots him. How is this possible, if, as Shelby says, Crutcher was approaching her just after she had been looking into his car, a moment before?

Moreover, doesn’t this timeline of events seem real strange? If Crutcher became, in her mind, a threat so fast, how is it she was able to radio for help and have other officers arrive so quickly—before she then proceeded to shot him dead?

Officer Shelby’s 60 Minutes interview was nothing more than an attempt to publicly smear and criminalize Mr. Crutcher—as well as possibly tainting the upcoming jury pool. She not only criminalized Crutcher but the community as well by mentioning that she works in a “high crime” area—that is, of course, primarily Black.

Officer Shelby’s story, like so many other police stories we’ve heard lately when they kill Blacks, is just not believable.

But sometimes as we saw in Ferguson the killer cop just has to say the Black man looked like a demon; or a zombie in this case.

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