Betty Shelby the officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher in 2016 was set to speak in Baton Rouge this week, after national and local backlash the Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association rescinded their invitation to Shelby.
Last year Shelby was acquitted after being charged for manslaughter in the case of Crutchers death. Since then Shelby resigned from the Tulsa Police Department after her acquittal and she was soon after hired as a sheriff’s deputy for the Rogers County Sheriff’s Department in Oklahoma. Now she’s being given the opportunity to share her story with other law enforcement officers around the country, and the next stop on the, “How to get away with murder tour” was Baton Rouge until today.
The national NAACP released a letter asking the SEHIA to rescind it’s invitation to Shelby stating, “Deputy Shelby is not a victim of Mr. Crutcher’s homicide. The late Mr. Crutcher and his survivors are the victims. Deputy Shelby’s subsequent acquittal on manslaughter charges is not an exoneration of her decision to kill an unarmed man that day, as the comments of the jurors following her trial make clear.”
Jurors in the case released a letter that was read at the conclusion of the trial. The jury questioned her “judgment as a law enforcement officer.” If less lethal force had been an option, “serious consideration” must be “given to whether she be allowed to return to practicing law enforcement,” said the jury foreman, in a letter the presiding member asked the court to make public to “placate” the media’s desire to interview members of the jury according to a Washington Post report about Shelby giving the same lecture in Tulsa, the very city she killed Crutcher earlier this year.
The SEHIA released a statement rescinding their invitation to Shelby, a portion of the release says, “Our goal in presenting the homicide case of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma was to educate the 350 attendees at our conference this week on the facts of the case for them to decide what they might do in the same situation had they been the lead investigator. We think this is an opportunity for law enforcement officers to learn the ramifications of the use of lethal force and make sound decisions to do so only when necessary to save their own lives and the lives of the citizens in the communities they are sworn to protect. Betty Shelby was not offered any compensation to present at the conference and was not presenting on the case itself. She was asked to present on what has happened to her since the homicide of Terence Crutcher so other officers will understand the aftermath of their decisions and the effect on their lives and the lives of others in the communities they serve. We believe these lessons and investigations into police officers being arrested are both timely and relevant to our members who could be in charge of these types of investigations in the future.”
The letter went on to say, “After careful consideration of all perspectives of national, state and local leaders, we have rescinded the offer to have Betty Shelby speak at the 2018 Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association Conference in Baton Rouge this week. The community of Baton Rouge has embraced our conference since we began planning it in 2016 and we cannot thank them enough for their southern hospitality and the graciousness they have shown our board of directors for the last two years. We understand this community has taken strides to heal its relationship with local police and we want to support those efforts as they have supported our efforts to educate our members. We appreciate the opportunity to be here and we want to be respectful to every city our conference visits.”
NAACP State President Mike McClanahan released the following statement, “After our community expressed explicit concerns, SEHIA has rescinded their offer to have Betty Shelby speak this week at the 2018 Southeastern Homicide Investigators Association Conference in Baton Rouge, LA. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund, sent a letter last week calling on SEHIA to remove her from their roster of speakers. We’d like to Thank The Citizens of Baton Rouge, Various Leaders, Chief Murphy Paul, and DA Hillar Moore for standing firm and speaking out!”
News on social media and the action of leaders insured that Shelby isn’t coming to Baton Rouge. This is a win for social justice advocate in Baton Rouge. The outcry against Shelby’s visit was swift, as were the board of directors of the SEHIA in respecting the call of the community.
Considering Baton Rouge as a community still has to deal with the fact that Yuseff Hamadeh hasn’t been charged by Baton Rouge Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore for shooting at unarmed Raheem Howard in August who was running away from him. Also taking into account the deaths of Alton Sterling, Calvin Toney, Jordan Frazier, and Travis Stevenson by law enforcement in Baton Rouge over the last few years, many in the community believed it was insensitive to even consider bringing Shelby to Baton Rouge. People around Baton Rouge praised the SEHIA’s decision to un-invite Shelby as the right thing to do.