Tulsa officer Betty Shelby claims she went deaf before killing Terence Crutcher
The probable cause affidavit for her arrest states that another officer told Betty Shelby he had a Taser ready to deploy before she shot Terence Crutcher, who was unarmed, on Sept. 16. Her attorney reportedly said she never heard that comment, and also didn’t realize other officers had arrived and were standing with her.
Scott Wood, who represents Shelby, said she experienced “auditory exclusion.” Wood described it as a phenomenon officers often experience in critical incidents that result in a temporary loss of hearing. Wood said because of that ailment, Shelby didn’t hear other officers arrive with their cars’ sirens activated and approach her. She didn’t hear officer Tyler Turnbough tell her he had his Taser ready because she was “totally focused” on Crutcher, he told Tulsa World.
“She doesn’t have any recollection of that at all,” Wood said.
Shelby is the second officer charged in Tulsa County within the last year and a half in connection with the shooting death of an unarmed Black man while on duty. The other, former Tulsa County reserve deputy Robert Bates, was charged with second-degree manslaughter in the April 2015 death of Eric Harris. Bates was convicted in April of this year and is serving a four-year prison sentence, the maximum allowed under state law.
“Shelby reacted unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation with Mr. Crutcher, who was not responding to verbal commands and was walking away from her with his hands held up, becoming emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted,” according to the affidavit.
Wood’s counter argument is the situation escalated because Crutcher repeatedly failed to comply, and kept reaching toward his left front pocket as if he had a gun there. Shelby pulled her handgun instead of her Taser because she felt he might be armed and was exhibiting signs of being on PCP, he said.
“If you think someone has a gun, you don’t get your Taser out,” Wood said, calling Shelby’s response “appropriate.”