Tulsa officer charged with manslaughter for fatal shooting seen on video

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TULSA, Okla., Sept 22 (Reuters) - The white Tulsa police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man whose car had broken down and blocked a road was charged with first degree manslaughter on Thursday and a warrant has been issued for her arrest.

Court papers filed by Tulsa County said Officer Betty Shelby escalated the situation and over-reacted in shooting Terence Crutcher, 40. If convicted, she faces at least four year in prison, lawyers said.

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The incident, captured on widely broadcast police videos, is one in a series that has raised questions of racial bias in U.S. policing.

"Although she is charged, she is presumed innocent until a judge or jury determines otherwise," Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler told reporters after an investigation in which more than 50 witnesses were questioned.

"I don't know why things happen in this world the way they do," he said.

Crutcher can be seen in two videos provided by Tulsa police on Monday with his hands in the air shortly before he was shot.

See photos of the accused officer and the scene:

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Cop shoots unarmed man in Tulsa
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Cop shoots unarmed man in Tulsa
This undated photo provided by the Tulsa Oklahoma Police Department shows officer Betty Shelby. Police say Tulsa officer Shelby fired the fatal shot that killed 40 year-old Terence Crutcher, Sept. 16, 2016. The police chief in Tulsa says Crutcher, a black man fatally shot by a white police officer responding to a stalled vehicle, had no weapon on him or in his SUV. Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Monday Sept. 19, 2016, that an investigation is underway into the shooting death. (Tulsa Police Department via AP)
In this image made from a Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 police video, Terence Crutcher, top, is pursued by police officers as he walk to an SUV in Tulsa, Okla. Crutcher was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead after he was shot by the officer around 8 p.m., Friday, police said. Crutcher had no weapon on him or in his SUV, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. (Tulsa Police Department via AP)
In this image made from a Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 police video, Terence Crutcher, left, is pursued by police officers as he walks to an SUV in Tulsa, Okla. Crutcher was fatally shot Friday after authorities say an officer stopped to investigate the stalled vehicle and Crutcher approached after officers arrived to assist. Crutcher had no weapon on him or in his SUV, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. (Tulsa Police Department via AP)
In this image made from a Friday, Sept. 16, 2016 police video, Terence Crutcher, center, is pursued by police officers as he walk to an SUV in Tulsa, Okla. Crutcher was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead after he was shot by the officer around 8 p.m., Friday, police said. Crutcher had no weapon on him or in his SUV, Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Monday, Sept. 19, 2016. (Tulsa Police Department via AP)
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATHA still image captured from a video from Tulsa Police Department shows Terence Crutcher after being shot during a police shooting incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. on September 16, 2016. Video taken September 16, 2016. Courtesy Tulsa Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATHA still image captured from a video from Tulsa Police Department shows Terence Crutcher after being shot during a police shooting incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. on September 16, 2016. Video taken September 16, 2016. Courtesy Tulsa Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A still image captured from a dashcam video from Tulsa Police Department shows Terence Crutcher seen with his hands in the air followed by police officers during a police shooting incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. on September 16, 2016. Video taken September 16, 2016. Courtesy Tulsa Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A still image captured from a video from Tulsa Police Department shows Terence Crutcher seen with his hands in the air followed by a police officer with a drawn weapon during a police shooting incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. on September 16, 2016. Video taken September 16, 2016. Courtesy Tulsa Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
A still image captured from a video from Tulsa Police Department shows Terence Crutcher seen with his hands in the air during a police shooting incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. on September 16, 2016. Video taken September 16, 2016. Courtesy Tulsa Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATHA still image captured from a video from Tulsa Police Department shows Terence Crutcher after being shot during a police shooting incident in Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S. on September 16, 2016. Video taken September 16, 2016. Courtesy Tulsa Police Department/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
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. Recent shootings by police raise a fundamental question: In the moments after officers shoot someone, how soon can medical aid be given? (Tulsa Police Department via AP, File)
In this photo made from a Sept. 16, 2016 police video, Terence Crutcher, left, lowers his right arm as he is pursued by police officers moments before he was shot and killed by one of the officers in Tulsa, Okla. When it comes to charging an officer, legal experts say, the most important determination isn't whether the officer was actually in danger in hindsight. It's whether the officer reasonably believed in his or her own mind that they or fellow officers were in danger at the split second they choose to shoot. There's no clear, standard formula investigators can rely on to answer the question of whether an officer's belief that he or she's in peril is reasonable, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago said. (Tulsa Police Department via AP)
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. When it comes to charging an officer, legal experts say, the most important determination isn't whether the officer was actually in danger in hindsight. It's whether the officer reasonably believed in his or her own mind that they or fellow officers were in danger at the split second they choose to shoot. There's no clear, standard formula investigators can rely on to answer the question of whether an officer's belief that he or she's in peril is reasonable, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago said. (Tulsa Police Department via AP)
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Shelby told investigators "that she was in fear for her life and thought Crutcher was going to kill her," according to an arrest affidavit.

An officer flanking her deployed a Taser on Crutcher, who was standing facing his vehicle. Then Shelby fired at Crutcher, whose left hand was not clearly in view, the affidavit said.

Shelby said she was traveling to another call when she came upon Crutcher. She said he did not respond to her questions and did not respond to her commands to stop as he walked to his vehicle with his hands in the air, it said.

"Officer Shelby acted unreasonably by escalating the situation," the affidavit reads, adding that "she became emotionally involved to the point that she over-reacted."

Tulsa police have said Crutcher was unarmed and there was no weapon in the vehicle. In a bid for transparency, they released the videos, one of which was taken from a police helicopter and the other from a dashboard camera in a patrol car.

The U.S. Justice Department has launched a separate investigation to see if the officers on the scene violated Crutcher's civil rights.

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