Officer Betty Shelby, the Tulsa cop who fatally shot unarmed Terence Crutcher, pled not guilty to first-degree manslaughter Friday. Her attorney claims she was temporarily deaf during the shooting.
The five-year force veteran faces life in prison if convicted. Her preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 29.
A day earlier, her attorney, Scott Wood, claimed Shelby was so hyper-focused before and during the Sept. 16 shooting that she didn’t hear other officers arrive on the scene — or even the deadly gunshot she fired.
“She didn’t hear the gunshot, didn’t hear the sirens coming up behind her just prior to the shot,” Wood said Thursday.
The condition, sometimes called “auditory exclusion,” happens when people in high-stress situations tune out noises around them, Wood said.
“It’s not only a common phenomenon described in literature, but it’s the No. 1 perceptual distortion by people I have represented who have been involved in shootings — diminished sound or complete auditory exclusion,” he argued.Crutcher was shot and killed on Sept. 16 after his SUV stalled on a Tulsa road.
Shelby, one of the cops who pulled over to investigate the idle car, claimed she “feared for her life” when she opened fire — but prosecutors said the unarmed man had his hands raised and was walking away from the responding officers before he was killed. Authorities released graphic video of shooting, captured from multiple police cameras, as protesters in Tulsa and around the country called for justice.
Shelby was arrested less than a week after the killing, and was freed on bond 20 minutes after she was locked up.
The 42-year-old cop joined the Tulsa police force in 2011. Before that, she worked for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.