*Terence Crutcher’s estate filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Thursday that alleges excessive use of force against the officer who fatally shot him and racially biased policing against the city of Tulsa.
According to TulsaWorld.com, the 15-page lawsuit goes after Officer Betty Shelby, who was acquitted on May 17 of first-degree manslaughter in Crutcher’s death. She has since returned to duty but not as a patrol officer.
The lawsuit, filed in Tulsa in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, declares Crutcher’s shooting to be unnecessary but also acknowledges that officers risk their lives every day to uphold the law and provide public safety.
“However, the realities of police work in Tulsa, Oklahoma did not constitute cause for Officer Shelby to become Terence’s ‘judge, jury, and executioner,’ ” the lawsuit states. “The dangers police officers generally face also do not provide a license to police officers to ‘shoot first and ask questions later,’ without properly evaluating the need for such force.”
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Damario Solomon-Simmons and Melvin Hall on behalf of Crutcher’s estate. The suit seeks in excess of $75,000 in actual damages, as well as punitive damages.
The lawsuit also alleges the police department’s “training, customs, patterns and practices” in particular are “deliberately indifferent” to respecting and protecting the constitutional rights of Tulsa’s African-American population.
The suit also requests injunctive relief, including independent investigations conducted by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and independent prosecutions of Tulsa police shootings by the Oklahoma attorney general.