Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) remembers Terence Crutcher, a beloved father, son, and brother who was tragically killed by Tulsa Police Department Officer Betty Shelby. Today marks one of the many heartbreaking anniversaries of African-American deaths due to unnecessary police violence.
Three years ago, today, on September 16, 2016, Terence Crutcher was on the side of a Tulsa, Oklahoma road waiting for help with his broken-down vehicle when Tulsa police officers Betty Shelby and Tyler Turnbough arrived at his location. Mr. Crutcher needed assistance. Instead, within just a few minutes of her arrival and for no just cause, Officer Shelby shot and killed him. Shelby was later charged, tried, and found not guilty of first-degree manslaughter. Despite Betty Shelby’s decision to shoot Mr. Crutcher – who was unarmed and had his hands raised in the air – she went on to serve as a deputy at the Rogers County Sheriff’s Office.
“Our thoughts are with Mr. Crutcher’s family as they remember his life and continue their fight to end police brutality in his name. Terence Crutcher’s death was unwarranted, unlawful, and is a dire consequence of larger systemic problems in law enforcement,” said LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “African Americans continue to be the targets of abusive and biased police practices in Tulsa. While we remember Mr. Crutcher, we will keep fighting for meaningful police reform that will prevent violence like this from continuing to occur in our communities.”
“It is shameful and horrifying that it has become commonplace that police officers who kill innocent Black people face no consequences,” said LDF Community Organizer Ralikh Hayes. “Mr. Crutcher’s family deserves justice, as do the thousands of families that have been torn apart by police violence. No person should be able to operate above the law and without recourse. Accountability for Officer Shelby’s fatal choice in 2016 to shoot Terence Crutcher is long overdue, as is meaningful reform to policing in Tulsa.”
LDF’s Policing Reform Campaign continues to promote unbiased and responsible policing policies and practices in Tulsa and across the country. The campaign uses research, public education, community organizing, policy and legislative advocacy, and litigation strategies to advance reforms at the national, state, and local levels.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.