Yesterday, a jury acquitted Tulsa, Oklahoma police officer Betty Jo Shelby in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed and shot with his hands held above his head. As much as I, as well as other like-minded individuals, struggle to maintain some sort of objectivity with state sanctioned murdered and the dehumanizing of black bodies, it was expected that no jury in the state of Oklahoma was ever going to convict a police officer of killing a black man, let alone a white woman.
Defense attorney Shannon McMurray argued that Shelby was charged prematurely due to the political environment across the country following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott in North Carolina.The family of Terence Crutcher burst into tears and reacted with outrage after jurors found Shelby not guilty in the Sept. 16 shooting.
“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.
The jury of 12 consisted of eight women and four men, including three African Americans. A peaceful gathering of demonstrators gathered outside the courtroom as the verdict was read. As has historically occurred in similar instances of police shootings of the unarmed and innocent, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin released a statement calling for calm in Tulsa.
“I ask Oklahomans to respect our criminal justice system and especially the jurors, who heard the evidence from both sides in this case," said Fallin in a statement. "Those who disagree with the verdict have the right to express their opinions; I just ask that they do so in a peaceful manner. Our thoughts and prayers should be with the Terence Crutcher and Betty Shelby families during this difficult time.”
Right, respect a criminal justice system that repeatedly, vehemently and Constitutionally devalues black life. Shelby argued that she shot Crutcher because he did not obey commands to lay on the ground and, as seems to be a part of every officer ever involved in a shooting, she said he "appeared" to reach in his vehicle for a weapon. This exchange supposedly occurred two minutes before the camera began recording. How convenient for her, huh.
They say the five stages of grieving are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. As I initially read of the verdict, my outrage somewhat muted by low expectations of American criminal justice, my anger long extinguished out of necessity lest I give myself a stroke, and at this point my depression is static and dark blue in response to the state's refusal to grant equality and Black impudence to do much of anything about it.
Acceptance is the final stage of grief and I'm disgusted by the thought that the entire American Black Diaspora might be headed toward the acceptance stage, acceptance that law enforcement will never be held accountable for institutional lynchings. But maybe that's a good thing. Maybe then we will all be truly galvanized and dedicated to ending this demonstrably racist practice once we get past that point.