As the investigation into the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher unfolds, the disturbing past of Officer Betty Shelby has come to light.
Shelby is the Tulsa, Oklahoma cop who killed Crutcher while he was unarmed with his hands up. She now faces charges of first degree manslaughter.
While Crutcher was deemed a “bad dude” by another officer who was flying above the scene in a helicopter, it seems Shelby hasn’t always been on the straight and narrow herself.
According to The Huffington Post, Shelby is currently married to another Tulsa cop named Dave Shelby, however, prior to this union she was married and then divorced from someone else.
Following her first divorce, her ex-husband remarried and his new wife filed a protective order against Shelby for harassing phone calls. The order was ultimately denied, but the incident certainly leaves a stain on Shelby’s reputation.
About 10 years prior to that, Shelby also had a domestic dispute with a former boyfriend that resulted in both parties vandalizing each other’s cars, and temporary restraining orders being filed.
Shelby is now a trained drug-recognition expert and she claimed to believe that Crutcher was under the influence when she engaged with him. Later, police said they uncovered PCP in his car, which coincides with Shelby’s suspicions.
However, Shelby has admitted to possessing and using illegal drugs too. She reportedly said she has used marijuana in the past.
Additionally, Shelby has had two excessive force complaints against her. Both cases were determined to be unfounded, which could be why she didn’t think twice about impulsively shooting Crutcher.
She’s gotten away with excessive force before; why not kick it up a notch?
Sure, that may be a very bold speculation to make, but it’s an example of the same type of tense scrutiny that minority victims of police brutality face when their imperfections are revealed.
While the questionable incidents in Shelby’s past may seem trivial or irrelevant to this case, it’s important to point out that as the victim — who is no longer alive to speak for himself — is being judged by society for the skeletons in his closet, the cop’s past is conveniently omitted.
Regardless of what Crutcher did or didn’t do; he was human, just like Shelby, and deserves the same objectivity from the media and the public that she is getting.
As The Huffington Post so eloquently put it, “… If we are to put emphasis on the background and history of victims of police shootings, it’s only fair to highlight those of the officers who killed them.”
No one would have ever said that Shelby deserved to die for smoking weed, harassing her ex-husband’s new spouse, or getting into a scuffle with a former boyfriend, so why is it okay to justify Crutcher’s death by denouncing him as a “bad dude” for his flaws?
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Sergio Flores