TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A white Oklahoma police officer charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed black man last year says the man's race had nothing to do with her decision to fire her gun.
Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby told CBS's "60 Minutes" in an interview scheduled to air later Sunday that she used lethal force because she feared 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was reaching inside his vehicle for a gun.
"I'm feeling that his intent is to do me harm and I keep thinking, 'Don't do this. Please don't do this. Don't make this happen,'" Shelby told correspondent Bill Whitaker in her first interview since the Sept. 16 shooting.
Shelby said she remembers the moment Crutcher appeared to reach inside.
"And it's fast. Just that would tell any officer that that man's going for a weapon," she says. "I say with a louder, more intense voice, 'Stop. Stop! Stop!' And he didn't. And that's when I took aim."
Shelby pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter and goes to trial May 8. Prosecutors say Shelby overreacted because Crutcher wasn't armed or combative when she approached him on a north Tulsa street after his SUV broke down and that he obeyed orders to raise his hands.
The shooting was caught on video from a police helicopter and a dashboard camera. Footage showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby with his arms in the air, but the images don't provide a clear view of when Shelby fired the single shot.
Shelby believes that she was swiftly charged because authorities feared civil unrest if they delayed taking action. Residents in other cities took to the streets in protest last year in response to a series of deaths of black residents during encounters with police.
Terence Crutcher's twin sister told "60 Minutes" that her brother was obeying Shelby's commands to raise his hands.
"What we saw on that video is what my dad always taught my brothers, taught us to do if we were pulled over by a police officer," Tiffany Crutcher said. "Put your hands in the air and put your hands on the car. And my brother did what my father taught us."