On trial

Officer who killed Terence Crutcher pleads not guilty, blames brief loss of hearing for shooting


Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby, 42, entered a plea of “not guilty” to manslaughter charges during her arraignment Friday morning for the death of Terence Crutcher.

Video footage of Crutcher’s death showed Shelby open fire on the unarmed man next to his stalled vehicle even as he held his hands up and appeared to be cooperating. Within days of the video’s release, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler sought Shelby’s arrest on first-degree manslaughter charges.

Shelby is currently free on a $50,000 bond and will next appear in court Nov. 29 for a preliminary hearing. The Tulsa Police have placed her on unpaid leave during the trial.

Defense attorney Scott Wood told the Tulsa World they plan to argue Shelby experienced an “auditory exclusion” and never heard her fellow officer say he was going to fire a Taser at Crutcher. They also plan to make the case that video of the shooting shows Crutcher reach into his car, giving Shelby reason to think her life was in danger.

“He has his hands up and is facing the car and looks at Shelby, and his left hand goes through the car window, and that’s when she fired her shot,” Wood told the World.

An attorney representing Crutcher’s family, Damario Solomon-Simmons, briefly spoke with reporters after the arraignment.

“Today was just a small step toward the justice that we want for Terence and his family,” Solomon-Simmons said, according to ABC News.