Oklahoma police officer charged in shooting of unarmed black motorist

A police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, faces a charge of first-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an African-American motorist on September 16, a state prosecutor announced Thursday.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler of Tulsa County in the central state of Oklahoma announced the charge against Officer Betty Shelby in the death of Terence Crutcher, 40.

Crutcher was killed in a confrontation with Tulsa Police Department officers who were responded to a report of a disabled vehicle.

Two police videos of the confrontation show Crutcher walking toward his vehicle with his hands up and his back to the officers.

One officer shocks Crutcher with a stun gun just before he is shot. The video shows no one attempting to provide medical aid after the shooting.

Kunzweiler said he acted based on videos from a police dashboard camera and a helicopter, as well as witnesses.

Shelby was expected to surrender to authorities in response to the warrant charging her in the case. Kunzweiler emphasized that she remains innocent until proven guilty in court.

Shelby faces at least four years and up to life in prison if convicted.

The US Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation this week into Crutcher's death, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday.

The Tulsa case coincides with unrest this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a 43-year-old African-American was killed by police Tuesday, amid conflicting accounts of whether he was armed.

"These tragic incidents ... have once again highlighted - in the most vivid and painful terms - the real divisions that still persist in this nation between law enforcement and communities of colour," Lynch said.

Last update: Fri, 23/09/2016 - 00:06
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