TULSA, OK – Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan gathered reporters on Monday to clarify what he called “some issues” that arose during the manslaughter trial of Officer Betty Shelby — including his disagreement with some of the prosecutors’ words.
The trial, in which Shelby was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter in Terence Crutcher’s death, featured contentious moments that essentially pitted prosecutors against police. However, in a Tulsa World story published Sunday, officials from both sides said their working relationship remains intact and that the agencies will continue pursuing justice in tandem.
Jordan, who did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment in that story, spoke briefly to reporters Monday after receiving multiple inquiries about the relationship between the Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office.
“I’ve voiced my displeasure. I’ve voiced my concerns,” Jordan said. “However, the DA’s Office does not work for the Tulsa Police Department, and the Tulsa Police Department does not work for the DA’s Office. But we both work for the citizens of Tulsa.
“There’s not going to be anything that’s going to deter us from collaborating, working well, cooperating with the District Attorney’s Office in order to receive the quality prosecutions for people who victimize our citizens.”
The police chief notified reporters before the news conference that he would not take questions, saying he’s legally limited in what he can talk about publicly.
Jordan touched on three topics to explain his perspective on prosecutors’ allegations that:
• Shelby was given special treatment because she was shown video of her fatally shooting Crutcher before investigators interviewed her.
• Shelby was not telling the truth on the witness stand because she would not look at the prosecutor.
• Police at the scene immediately knew that Crutcher’s death was a “bad shoot” because officers told Shelby not to speak to anyone about it.
To the first point, Jordan said officers are shown videos of situations in which they are involved prior to being interviewed because that is considered a “best practice” of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. He said it “only makes sense” to show someone that video beforehand if you’re going to be referring to it in an interview.
“It was stated that you wouldn’t do this for a civilian. Well, fortunately civilians are not required by our society to wear cameras to document their every action,” Jordan said. “If that were the case, where there was a citizen on video, I’m not sure that we wouldn’t show it to them first if we were going to do an interview regarding incidents that occurred on that video.”
In reference to the second point, Jordan said prosecutors “kind of intimated” that Shelby wasn’t telling the truth by averting her eyes from prosecutors and focusing instead on jurors.
During his closing argument Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray called into question Shelby’s testimony.
“She wouldn’t look at me. She had her eyes looking at you,” Gray told jurors. “She would evade over and over and over again. She did not want to answer simple questions.”
In response, Jordan spoke of his many years as a police officer.
“I’ve never had a lawyer that didn’t tell me, ‘Don’t look at me. Look at the jury. You’re talking to the jury,’” Jordan said. “That’s just basic protocol for when you’re testifying in front of a jury.”
Thirdly, Jordan said that when he was a sergeant who investigated homicides, he would tell officers once he arrived at an officer-involved shooting not to talk to anyone before speaking to investigators.
“You start talking to a lot of different patrol officers at the scene, and guess what happens: We get rumors. We get varying stories,” Jordan said. “It’s not a matter of trying to keep that person from telling people; it’s a matter of who you’re telling it to.”
District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, in his closing argument, questioned why Shelby’s fellow officers told her not to talk about the shooting until she spoke with an attorney.
“They all know it’s a bad shoot immediately,” Kunzweiler told jurors.
Kunzweiler issued a statement to the Tulsa World on Friday expressing confidence in the ability of prosecutors and police to continue to work together — having filed about 14,000 felony and misdemeanor cases in 2016 alone.
“All of these cases involve different victims — whether they are merchants, individuals, or society at large,” Kunzweiler wrote. “I am confident that prosecutors and law enforcement will focus their attention, as they should, on each of those individual victim cases and will work towards jointly accomplishing the justice (to) which those victims are entitled.”
Sgt. Dave Walker, head of the Homicide Unit, had gathered reporters Thursday to address what he said were attacks against him and his agency. Walker was the lead police investigator into Crutcher’s shooting and became a central figure in the conflict between the Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office.
Walker testified during the trial that he disagreed with and felt disrespected by Kunzweiler’s decision to file a manslaughter charge against Shelby without consulting with him.
Crutcher’s sister called for Walker to be fired because of what she called his special treatment of Shelby, which prompted Walker to speak out.
From The Tulsa World