TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Tulsa’s police union has filed an ethics complaint against the district attorney, saying he unfairly brought charges against an officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man.
Officer Betty Shelby has pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the Sept. 16 death of Terence Crutcher.
The union contended in its complaint filed Wednesday that Shelby’s arrest was “merely based on watching a video.” It accuses District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler of failing to adhere to his own procedures.
Kunzweiler called the timing of the complaint “pretty interesting. He said he had a significant amount of evidence before filing the charge and is anticipating obtaining legal counsel to defend himself.
Prosecutors said Shelby acted unreasonably because Crutcher wasn’t armed or combative when she approached him on a street after his SUV broke down and obeyed orders to raise his hands.
Shelby’s attorneys said she shot Crutcher because she feared for her life, believing he was reaching into his vehicle for a gun.
The union’s complaint came amid District Judge Doug Drummond allowing video evidence in the trial that shows Shelby’s interaction with Crutcher from a helicopter.
Shelby’s defense attorneys had asked last week that the video not be shown to jurors. They said the video is prejudicial and could confuse jurors about the facts at issue, which is whether Shelby’s use of deadly force was reasonable.
Drummond decided Wednesday that the video was relevant to the trial because it shows the conduct of Shelby and other officers.
Drummond’s ruling on the video evidence and other issues in the case clears the way for Shelby’s jury trial to begin Monday.
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