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Jury acquits Tulsa cop in shooting of unarmed black man
AP May-18-2017 258 0


A jury on Wednesday acquitted a white Oklahoma police officer who says she fired out of fear last year when she killed an unarmed black man with his hands held above his head.

The family of Terence Crutcher burst into tears and expressed outrage after jurors found Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby not guilty of first-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 16 shooting. About 100 demonstrators later gathered outside the courthouse and some briefly blocked a main street.

"Let it be known that I believe in my heart that Betty Shelby got away with murder," Crutcher's father, Rev. Joey Crutcher, said after the verdict was announced.

A lawyer for Shelby said the officer was "elated" that the jury found her not guilty.

"She's ready to get back to her life," Defense Attorney Shannon McMurray said.

Shelby looked stone-faced when the verdict was read, but Crutcher's family was quickly ushered out of the courtroom sobbing and wailing.

At least four of the 12 jurors were crying as they left the courtroom and they did not look at either the family of Crutcher or Shelby. The jury comprised eight women and four men and included three African-Americans.

Shelby testified that she fired her weapon out of fear because she said Crutcher didn't obey her commands to lie on the ground and appeared to reach inside his SUV for what she thought was a gun. Crutcher was unarmed.

Prosecutors told jurors that Shelby overreacted. They noted Crutcher had his hands in the air and wasn't combative — part of which was confirmed by police video taken from a dashboard camera and helicopter that showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby, hands held above his head.

Shelby's attorneys argued that in the two minutes before cameras began recording the encounter, Shelby repeatedly ordered Crutcher to stop walking away from her and get on the ground.

Shelby also said she feared Crutcher was under the influence of PCP, a powerful hallucinogenic known as Angel Dust that makes users erratic, unpredictable and combative.

An autopsy showed PCP was in Crutcher's system, and police said they found a vial of it in his SUV.

Crutcher's family said police attempted to "demonize" Crutcher over the drug possession to deflect attention from the fact officers didn't find a gun inside his SUV.

The killing of 40-year-old Crutcher was among a spate of officer-involved shootings in recent years that helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement and prompted calls for more police accountability.

About 100 demonstrators gathered in a plaza outside the courthouse Wednesday evening to protest the verdict. They chanted: "No Justice, No Peace. No Racist Police." A smaller group later briefly blocked a major downtown road but dispersed peacefully. Police kept a relatively low profile, standing about a block away.

Marq Lewis, organizer of the local civil rights group We The People Oklahoma said the verdict was a blow to Tulsa's black community.

"When is it going to stop — just officer-related shootings? When will the police change policy?" he asked.

Tulsa has a long history of troubled race relations dating back to a 1921 race riot that left about 300 black residents dead. In 2015, a poorly-trained white voluntary deputy, Robert Bates, shot and killed a black man after Bates said he mistakenly reached for his gun rather than a taser. The shooting led to the departure of the sheriff.

Six days after the Crutcher shooting, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler charged Shelby. An affidavit accused her of "becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted."

Defense attorney McMurray argued that prosecutors rushed to charge Shelby for political reasons, fearing civil unrest like the angry street protests that erupted in Charlotte, North Carolina, after the fatal shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott four days after Crutcher was killed. But the reaction in Tulsa was more muted, with protests but no violence.


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In an exclusive video to APP.com, father Kenroy Smith tearfully asked Trump to intervene after AbbieGail's older sister Kenish had her visa application denied. The visa for Kenroy, who had previously been deported from the U.S. on a drug charge 16 years ago, remained in limbo.

The Smiths said they were desperate to come to Keansburg to pay their final respects to AbbieGail and to see where she had been fatally stabbed last week. They feared they would miss their only chance to say goodbye.

"My dear little AbbieGail was taken away and I need to pay my last respects to her," Kenroy Smith said breaking down in tears. "That's all I'm asking."

Kenish, the sister, said her temporary visa application was rejected Wednesday. She said she wasn't given a reason, but officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, questioned her about her occupation as a cosmetologist and her ties to her home country before making the decision.
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Kenroy Smith said he would find out Friday whether he would be granted entry to the United States.
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Smith's upstairs neighbor Andreas Erazo has been charged with her murder. He is in the Monmouth County Jail awaiting a bail hearing.

AbbieGail will be buried Monday following a Mass at St. Ann's Church in Keansburg.

Kenroy Smith said he was unsure whether he would be allowed into the country. He was deported from the United States to Jamaica in 2001 following a marijuana arrest.
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Latisha Smith, one of AbbieGail's sisters who lives in Maryland, said she has been up early every day this week writing emails to elected officials and going to local immigration offices in a frantic last-ditch effort to help her father and sister get visas.

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Latisha Smith said AbbieGail frequently visited her father in Jamaica and that Kenroy had developed a special bond with his youngest daughter.

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A former Miss Kentucky USA from Louisville is accused of smuggling drugs into an Ohio prison for an inmate.

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Hampton was crowned Miss Kentucky USA in November 2010 when she was 21 years old. She was the first African American chosen to represent Kentucky in the Miss USA pageant.

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Dallas will have its first female police chief by the end of the summer.

City Manager T.C. Broadnax has chosen Detroit Deputy Police Chief Ulysha Renee Hall from a pool of seven finalists, three of them internal candidates.

"It was a difficult choice," Broadnax said at City Hall Wednesday, "but I believe Renee Hall will be a dynamic chief."

Dallas' chief position has been vacant since October, when Chief David Brown retired from the department. Assistant Chief of Police David Pughes ran the department as interim chief while officials searched for a permanent replacement.

Pughes didn’t apply for the job, but three insiders did: Deputy Chiefs Malik Aziz and Rick Watson and Assistant Chief Gary Tittle.

Dallas city managers have chosen to hire outsiders for the top cop job multiple times in the last few decades. Three consecutive chiefs — Mack Vines, Bill Rathburn and Ben Click — all came to the city after careers in departments outside the state.

Aziz, who has been a finalist in several other cities, was a favorite among officers to become the next chief. He had no comment Wednesday about the chief selection.

The city manager’s office initially selected eight people as finalists for the job, but Grand Prairie Police Chief Steve Dye withdrew his application.

The city manager touted Hall's passion for public service and said she has the right tools to solve the department's key challenges.

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City officials say Hall will formally take over Sept. 5.

Three women — Hall, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson — now have some of the most powerful law enforcement jobs in the Dallas area.

Hall, who has been on the force in Detroit since 1999, has dealt with several issues paralleling crises in Dallas. These include the increasing homeless population and the loose-dogs issue that has affected low-income neighborhoods.

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The boyfriend of a woman who was shot and left for dead outside of a Midlands hospital has now been charged with her murder, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Albertus Lewis is now charged with murder and obstruction of justice.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department said the victim, identified as Mayra Sanchez, 20, was dropped off about 4:30 a.m. July 5 at Palmetto Health Richland.

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A 25-year-old South Carolina woman was in jail on Tuesday on a murder charge for the death of her 13-month-old daughter, who police said she left in a car last month while she went to a hair salon in suburban Atlanta.

The mother, DiJanelle Fowler, kept the car running with the air conditioning on, but the car's battery died while she was inside the beauty shop in Tucker, Georgia, on June 15, said DeKalb County Police spokeswoman Shiera Campbell.

Police believe Skylar Fowler was dead by the time her mother returned to the car a few hours later, Campbell said.

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The high temperature in DeKalb County that day was 92 degrees Fahrenheit at 5 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Twenty-three U.S. children have died so far this year after being left in hot cars, up from 20 through mid-July in 2016, according to the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org, which tracks such deaths.

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Fired Balch Springs police officer Roy Oliver has been indicted for murder for the shooting death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards.

A Dallas County grand jury returned the indictment for Oliver Monday on one count of murder and four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon by a public servant, according to Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson.
  
"It is important to let our community know that justice is proceeding effectively and thoroughly at the Dallas County DA's Office," Johnson said. "This is the very first time we have issued an arrest warrant for a police officer before the case was presented to a grand jury. As we move forward, my office continues to be committed to seeking justice for Jordan and his family. You have my personal guarantee that we will prosecute this case vigorously."

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Oliver has already been indicted for two counts of aggravated assault by a public servant for a separate incident before the deadly shooting.
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The Dallas Country Grand Jury is expected to determine whether former Balch Springs Police Officer will be indicted for the murder of 15 year old Jordan Edwards. A press conference is scheduled for 3pm today.

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