A police officer in Oklahoma has been charged with first-degree manslaughter after fatally shooting an unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher. Video footage of the incident sparked protests and calls for criminal charges.
Prosecutors in Tulsa, Oklahoma issued a warrant on Thursday for the arrest of police officer Betty Shelby, who shot 40-year-old Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man and father of four. The officer is being charged with first-degree manslaughter.
County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler brought the charges one week after Shelby shot and killed Crutcher.
"I do not know why things happen in this world the way they do," Kunzweiler said. "We need to pray for wisdom and guidance."
He added that arrangements were being made for Shelby's surrender.
In Oklahoma, first-degree manslaughter is defined as a killing "perpetrated unnecessarily either while resisting an attempt by the person killed to commit a crime, or after such attempt shall have failed."
Dashcam videos and footage shot from a helicopter showed Crutcher with his hands in the air, complying with officers.
Video from the police helicopter also included audio with a man saying: "That looks like a bad dude, too. Probably on something."
It's unclear what compelled Shelby to draw her gun or what verbal exchange officers might have had with Crutcher, as her patrol car's dashboard camera was not activated. Her lawyer told The New York Times that Crutcher had been behaving erratically and was trying to put his hand in his pocket.
The victim's family has discounted claims that Crutcher was attempting to reach through the window of his SUV. Enlarged video of the incident appears to show the window in question was already rolled up.
Tulsa police did not find a gun on Crutcher or in his vehicle.
The shooting was one of the latest in a spate of high-profile police shootings involving unarmed black men in the United States.
The state of emergency was declared in the southern city of Charlotte, North Carolina amidst ongoing protests surrounding the fatal police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old unarmed black man.
rs/kl (AP, AFP, Reuters)