On Sunday, 60 Minutes aired a report on the shooting death of Terence Crutcher. Crutcher, a black man, was killed last fall by Betty Shelby, a white police officer. Shelby is charged with manslaughter, and trial is set to begin in Tulsa in May. In the two-part story, correspondent Bill Whitaker interviewed Shelby and Crutcher’s twin sister, Tiffany, as well as a number of others directly related to the case.
Viewers of the broadcast who reached out via social media offered a myriad of responses, but many people left the broadcast with questions--they wondered about Shelby’s options that September day, the consequences of perceived non-compliance with police, and whether jury impartiality is even possible after appearing on national television.
Whitaker asked Shelby if she thought about shooting Crutcher in the leg after she says she felt threatened, or if there was anything else she could have done. She responded, “No. And I’m not trained to shoot someone in the foot. We don’t train to be cowboys and to be like what they show on the movies.” But some viewers still questioned if she could have disarmed him or used her Taser. Others argued Shelby was appropriately using her training in a threatening situation.
Viewers were divided on whether Crutcher was complying with Shelby’s orders, and whether non-compliance would warrant a deadly outcome. Several viewers felt his size and his behavior were threatening, others didn’t buy that a guy with his hands up could be a threat to an officer with backup, and some believed Shelby was equating “threat” with “black.”
While viewers who weighed in were split on the details of the two minutes leading up to Crutcher’s death, they were pretty unified in their belief that 60 Minutes airing the report will taint the jury for next month’s trial.