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Tulsa officer acquitted in black man's death returning to force


Published: Fri, May 19, 2017 @ 8:33 p.m.

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A white Oklahoma police officer acquitted in an unarmed black man's shooting death will be back on the force next week, even as jurors who declared her not guilty of manslaughter unanimously agreed she should never return to patrol.

Tulsa police Chief Chuck Jordan issued a one-sentence statement today in which he said Betty Jo Shelby is reinstated. It comes a day after black community leaders rallied, urging city leaders to block the 43-year-old officer from getting back her job. She had been on unpaid leave since Sept. 22 when she was charged in the death.

Some leaders were taken aback by Shelby's quick reinstatement.

"The decision today was obviously a slap in the face, and I think that's how a lot of the black community feels," said Anthony Scott, pastor at First Baptist Church North Tulsa. "It's like pouring salt on a wound."

Shelby's attorneys said she'll rejoin the force Monday, but in limited capacity. The 10-year law enforcement veteran is barred from street patrol while an internal affairs investigation into the Sept. 16 shooting of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher plays out.

Shortly before the announcement of Shelby's reinstatement, the foreman of the jury that acquitted her Wednesday said in a court filing that if Shelby had thought to use her stun gun before Crutcher reached his stalled sport utility vehicle, the decision "could have saved his life."


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