Tulsa DA files manslaughter charges before TPD detective files report

Posted at 10:33 PM, Sep 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-22 23:41:33-04

TULSA - The lead detective on the Terence Crutcher officer-involved shooting death says he's still working on his investigation, hours after the Tulsa County district attorney filed a first-degree manslaughter charge against Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby.

Homicide detective Sgt. Dave Walker told 2 Works for You he expects to finish his report on Friday. He said it's unusual for the district attorney's office to file charges without his completed report, and that this is the first time he's seen it happen.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said it's not unusual for his office to file charges before law enforcement agencies complete their investigations. He pointed to the second-degree manslaughter case against former Tulsa County Sheriff's volunteer deputy Robert Bates as an example of cases filed by his office prior to police submitting their report and recommendations. The probable cause affidavit in that case was also signed by the DA's chief investigator.

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Department investigated Bates' fatal shooting of Eric Harris in April of 2015. Bates is serving a four-year sentence after his conviction a year later.

"Sgt. Walker did an incredible job investigating [the case] and he provided me with all of the necessary information I needed to make my charging decision," Kunzweiler said, adding that Chief Investigator Doug Campbell relied on information and recordings from Tulsa police as part of the probable cause affidavit.

Kunzweiler said he expects to receive supplemental information from police, but nothing that would alter his decision to charge. 

In a press conference on Monday, Kunzweiler and other local officials vowed transparency and justice in the case, and urged the public to be patient, to remain peaceful and to allow the legal process to work.

"Many people may want to have an outcome within a hairsbreadth," said Kunzweiler on Monday, "it's my responsibility to make sure that the facts fit the law. And I will do that."

According to the affidavit filed on Thursday, officer Betty Shelby found 40-year-old Terence Crutcher outside of a sport utility vehicle parked in the middle of the 2300 block of 36 St. N. on Friday evening. Shelby told investigators he disregarded several commands and repeatedly reached for his pockets. Records show Shelby told dispatch Crutcher would not show her his hands.

Shelby's attorney, Scott Wood, told 2 Works for You she shot Crutcher because she feared for her life. Paramedics performed CPR and loaded him in to an ambulance, but Crutcher later died.

The Department of Justice is conducting what U.S. Attorney Danny Williams, Sr. called a comprehensive review of the events surrounding the shooting. Williams said the Northern District of Oklahoma is working with the D.O.J.'s Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. and the F.B.I. to investigate allegations of excessive force.

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