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Oklahoma Officer Charged With Manslaughter in Unarmed Man's Death

  • VOA News

FILE - In this photo made from a Sept. 16, 2016, police video, Terence Crutcher, left, with his arms up, is pursued by police officers as he walks next to his stalled SUV moments before he was shot and killed by one of the officers in Tulsa, Okla.

FILE - In this photo made from a Sept. 16, 2016, police video, Terence Crutcher, left, with his arms up, is pursued by police officers as he walks next to his stalled SUV moments before he was shot and killed by one of the officers in Tulsa, Okla.

Prosecutors in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Thursday charged a police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man.

Officer Betty Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the death of Terence Crutcher, 40, on September 16.

Video recorded by a dashboard camera and a police helicopter shows Crutcher with his hands up, appearing to comply with police officers and leaning against his car. He is then shot once by Shelby and falls to the ground.

The footage does not offer a clear view of when Shelby fired the single shot that killed Crutcher.

Her attorney has said Crutcher was not following police commands and that Shelby feared for her life and opened fire when the man began to reach into a window in his car.

But the victim's family has discounted that claim, saying the father of four posed no threat to the officers. They also pointed to an enlarged photo from police footage that appears to show Crutcher's window was closed. And police said Crutcher did not have gun on him or in his vehicle.

Among the definitions in Oklahoma of first-degree manslaughter is a killing "perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed.''

If convicted, Shelby could face a minimum of four years in prison.

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