killer cop betty shelby is already back on the job. smh

May 22, 2017

When Tulsa, Oklahoma cop Betty Shelby was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter last Wednesday in the death of Terrence Crutcher, that was bad enough. To make matters worse, a juror later revealed that the group voted not guilty in the case because they were getting hungry and tired, as if justice for a man’s life wasn’t hanging in the balance.

Now to pour even more salt in the wound, Shelby is already back on the job – proving once that the killing of an unarmed Black person is so routine that not only is no punishment required, but neither is any time for self-reflection on the part of the cop who pulls the trigger.

By Hari Ziyad*, AFROPUNK Writer

As we reported last week, “Shelby has a history of using excessive force against citizens [and] claimed that watching Crutcher walk away from her and the other assisting officers made her, ‘fear for my life’ and that ‘Crutcher’s death is his fault’ because ‘I did everything I could to stop this.’” Of course, the video of Crutcher with his hands up and fully complying told a different story, but in America anti-Blackness is the only story that matters.

As The Grio notes, “Shelby was on paid leave during her trial and is among several other officers who were permitted to return to work after being accused of excessive force. The officers involved in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray have returned to work as well as Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who held Eric Garner in a fatal chokehold in 2014. Pantaleo didn’t just get his job back, he got paid six figures in overtime while working modified desk duty.”

Perhaps the question now is one posed by Joy James & Joāo Costa Vargas in their paper “Refusing Blackness-as-Victimization: Trayvon Martin and the Black Cyborgs” that I have been meditating upon recently: “What happens when instead of becoming enraged and shocked every time a Black person is killed in the United States, we recognize Black death as a predictable and constitutive aspect of this democracy? What will happen then if instead of demanding justice we recognize (or at least consider) that the very notion of justice … produces and requires Black exclusion and death as normative?”

Banner photo via Sue Ogrocki / AP

*Hari Ziyad is a New York based storyteller and writer for AFROPUNK. They are also the editor-in-chief of RaceBaitR, deputy editor of Black Youth Project, and assistant editor of Vinyl Poetry & Prose. You can follow them on Twitter @hariziyad.