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Betty Shelby to Teach Course at Tulsa County Sheriff's Office on Surviving a Critical Incident

KWGS News File photo

The Tulsa police officer acquitted in the killing of an unarmed black man in 2016 is coming back to the city.

Betty Shelby is teaching a law enforcement class on surviving a critical incident on Tuesday, hosted by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. The training will count toward Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training requirements.

We The People Oklahoma’s Marq Lewis said given Shelby’s history, someone else should teach the course.

"On the stand, Betty Shelby said that she used her teaching and her training to actually shoot and kill Terrence Crutcher. My problem is will she still convey that type of message to these officers?" Lewis said. "There’s also a consensus that Betty Shelby is being rewarded for this. There’s this consensus within the community that nothing negative has happened to her at all — her losing employment, her losing finances, anything of that nature."

Shelby was acquitted of manslaughter after fatally shooting Crutcher in 2016, testifying her training led her to believe he was reaching for a gun. Crutcher was unarmed.

Jurors submitted a letter saying they thought she was unfit to be a law enforcement officer.

"Our officers do need teaching and do need training, but we do need to be very particular on who the training is coming from," Lewis said, adding he would rather see officers receive de-escalation training.

Lewis also called the timing of the course — the 65th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech — a "slap in the face" to a black community that has a rocky relationship with local law enforcement.

In 2015, white TCSO reserve deputy Bob Bates shot and killed Eric Harris during an undercover operation. Harris, who was black, turned out to be unarmed. Bates said he mistook his gun for his Taser. He was convicted of second-degree manslaughter.

In a statement, the sheriff’s office said now–Rogers County Deputy Shelby routinely teaches these classes at other agencies and did not respond to Lewis’ comments.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.