Tulsa, OK - Former Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby's criminal record was expunged on Wednesday morning by District Judge William LaFortune.
After Shelby's record was expunged, it became publicly known that Oklahoma State Senator Kevin Matthews and rep. Regina Goodwin had issued a citation "honoring the legacy of Terence Crutcher" several months ago.
"A PCP addict. A man that spent a good portion of his life in the penitentiary. A gang member. And these characteristics here do not come out in the proclamation," Sheriff Walton told Megan Allison with KJRH.
Senator Matthews tried to defend honoring a dead criminal, saying that it was for his children.
"The scholarship foundation is a positive thing. And those people trying to make this a negative is a dirty, dirty thing . We're trying to get past that in Tulsa and across the state," Mathews said.
Sheriff Walton doesn't agree.
"Are the standards forever changed on the people we establish scholarships for and foundations for? I thought these were for lives that benefited the community that produced in the community," Sheriff Walton told Allison.
Officer Shelby, who now works as a reserve deputy for the Rogers County Sheriff's Office, resigned from the Tulsa Police Department on August 3 after her acquittal on a manslaughter charge in the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher.
In court on Wednesday, Judge LaFortune said he had scheduled the hearing to allow anyone to object or ask for a full hearing, "given the high-profile nature of this case and its petitioner."
No one asked for either, and Judge LaFortune signed the legal document.
The expungement order, according to Oklahoma law, means that Officer Shelby can legally say when asked about her manslaughter case that “no such action ever occurred and that no such record exists” about her.
In the petition, it was noted that Officer Shelby did not have any previous criminal history or pending criminal cases.
It said that Officer Shelby "faces dangers of unwarranted adverse consequences” if the case records are not sealed.
The petition also said that "her privacy interests outweighed the public’s interest in keeping information about her arrest and criminal case public."
Oklahoma state law allows for the destruction of records that have been expunged, but only after 10 years. Until that time, they are sealed and stored.
Until the 10-year period of time has passed, the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office, the Tulsa Police Department, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, or any other person or agency can petition the court for an order unsealing Officer Shelby's record.
After the ten year period of time is over, a judge will review the file to determine if conditions have changed or for part of the record to be released if compelling reasons exist.
If the record is not unsealed before the end of that time period, it can be obliterated or destroyed.
Officer Shelby was charged by District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler just six days after the shooting, despite the investigation just getting started and a homicide detective telling him that there wasn’t enough evidence.
Charges were filed before Kunzweiler had the autopsy or investigation report.
During the trial, Officer Shelby’s defense attorney, Shannon McMurray, said that Officer Shelby shot Crutcher because she thought he was reaching into his SUV for a gun. No gun was found in the vehicle.
McMurray said, “To somehow imply that she was supposed to see what was in this door panel is absurd. It’s deceitful and you should disregard it.”
Prior to the trial, there had been claims that Crutcher’s window was actually closed. During the trial, evidence proved that the window was down and the prosecution had to concede the point and that Crutcher was reaching in at the time he was shot.
In April, Officer Shelby went on CBS’ 60 Minutes and talked about what had happened. She said that she felt “almost any police officer in her position would have acted as she did.’ She also said that race had nothing to do with the shooting.
In the 60 minutes video, Officer Shelby said, “I’m feeling that his intent is to do me harm and I keep thinking, “Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Don’t make this happen.”
Based on the circumstances, we also found the shooting to be reasonable.
Shortly after a jury acquitted Officer Shelby, she returned to work where she was barred from working patrol, which resulted in her resignation.
Now Reserve Deputy Shelby will be able to continue to serve the citizens of Oklahoma in an unpaid position with Rogers County Sheriff's Office.