Shelby, now working for a sheriff’s office in a nearby county, came back to Tulsa to teach a course on helping police officers “survive” the aftermath of controversial shootings such as the one in which she was involved.
“Participants will be exposed to many of the legal, financial, physical, and emotional challenges which may result from a critical incident in an effort to prepare (law enforcement officers) for the aftermath,” reads the course description on the website for the state Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.
Shelby has said she’ll teach fellow officers how to deal with what she calls the “Ferguson effect,” a reference to the 2014 shooting and subsequent unrest surrounding the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
She told CNN affiliate KTUL the Ferguson effect is “When a police officer is victimized by anti-police groups and tried in the court of public opinion.”
Shelby’s teaching of the course — “Surviving the Aftermath of a Critical Incident” — sparked a protest Monday from those who say it’s insensitive and an insult for her to teach it, especially in Tulsa, where she, as a police officer, shot and killed Terence Crutcher during a September 2016 traffic stop.
In case you don’t remember the details, Crutcher was an unarmed black man found walking toward an SUV parked in the middle of the road. Shelby and another officer approached him and, based on his behavior, Shelby believed he might be reaching into the vehicle for a gun. The officer next to her fired a taser and at almost the same instant Shelby fired her weapon and killed Crutcher.
No gun was found in the car and there was a dispute about whether the SUV’s window was even down, allowing Crutcher to reach inside. Shelby said the window was down but attorneys for Crutcher’s family said it was up. PCP was found inside the SUV and was later confirmed to be in Crutcher’s system at the time of the shooting.
The case made national news and became a focus of protests. Even President Trump said he found it troubling. Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter by the Tulsa DA just a couple days after the shooting. But last May, Shelby was acquitted.
Shelby left Tulsa PD after being acquitted and has been working in a neighboring county for about a year. She started her new job as a reserve officer, she is now back out on patrol.
Those who think Shelby got away with murder are, of course, going to be outraged that she’s still working, much less teaching other police officers. But she faced the intense scrutiny brought by the national media and activists, many of whom wanted to see her in jail. That’s a kind of national attention these cases didn’t get even 10 years ago. Other officers are probably worried the same could happen to them if they were ever involved in a shooting and are interested in how to deal with that intense spotlight.