Letter to the editor: How these cases were once handled

No one needs to be told the tragedy of Officer Betty Shelby being charged with manslaughter for the shooting of a man with a lengthy felony record.

The only thing I can add to the narrative is that I, as an eyewitness to similar proceedings in the early-to mid-seventies, can tell you how that type of thing was handled then.

I witnessed several trials involving police officers in which a person lost his/her life.  The DA then, S. M. (Buddy) Fallis, Jr. (probably the best DA that I have seen in 35 years), would file first-degree murder charges on the officer.  The defendant would then waive his right to a jury trial, and the case would always be heard before Judge Margaret Lamm.  After the assistant DA presented his evidence and the defense responded, Judge Lamm would find the defendant not guilty.

And it did not matter what race or ethnic origin the victim was, the procedure was the same.  Why was it done this way?  Clearly it was to protect the police officer from a future murder charge the next year, or even 20 years into the future.  There is no statue of limitations on murder.  Also, it helped protect the officer from a civil lawsuit by the relatives of the victim.

So, what about this procedure by Mr. Fallis?  Well, your district attorney (elected by the people) was a man of high character, or he wasn’t.  You can bet your bottom dollar that Buddy Fallis would take a much different stance if it was clear that the officer acted in gross disregard of human life.  There would be charges filed and a jury trial conducted.

The district attorney is elected to make tough decisions and not to suck up to men like Al Sharpton and his ilk.  A district attorney is supposed to be looking for justice.  There are computers we could put in to do exactly as Mr. Kunzweiler did.  A human DA is supposed to take a more ethical and moral stance – looking ultimately for justice.  The very best of reasons that Kunzweiler should not have filed the case is because a law and order Tulsa County jury might convict Mrs. Shelby, which would be a great injustice for a good officer, a good, decent woman, mother and wife.

Kunzweiler should have taken his time and not pushed a good police into a murder (manslaughter) trial after only six days.

The next thing he should have done was to recuse himself and his office from the case.  Usually, in cases like this, the State Attorney General becomes the prosecutor, or the case is assigned to a district attorney from a different part of the state.  Those are just fundamental things that any district attorney, in a high-profile case such as this would have done.

Kunzweiler did not even approach the lowest level of justice in this case

The DA takes longer on a dog bite charge than six days to file a case.  There should have been no case filed against Mrs. Shelby.  Why?  Because the DA will offer her a “really, really good deal” – Like, if you plead guilty, we will only ask for a year in prison plus 20 years suspended.  And, defendants jump at that type of a deal because they know that an Oklahoma jury might give them 20 or 30 years in prison.

The facts can be argued by her attorney – that (1) the helicopter was on the far side of the vehicle and could not possibly have seen the movements Crutcher was making, and (2) no audio could be heard – the camera on the chopper could not have possibly heard the numerous commands of the officers to get on the ground or put his hands on his head.  And, (3) the window was open and the camera could not have seen the furtive movements being made by Mr. Crutcher.  Exactly how long does it take to grab a gun in the front seat (or from his pants) and turned and fired, and killed a police officer?  I would say about one second – maybe two.  Mrs. Shelby did not have that kind of time to wait!