Oklahoma officer Betty Shelby takes the stand in her own defense during manslaughter trial
TULSA, Okla. – An Oklahoma police officer who was charged with manslaughter in the death of a Tulsa man is testifying in her defense.
Last year, 40-year-old Terence Crutcher was shot and killed by Tulsa Officer Betty Shelby after his car was stopped in the middle of a roadway.
Officers at the scene say Crutcher was acting erratically and was not following commands.
According to the affidavit, Shelby asked Crutcher if the vehicle was his and if it was disabled.
“He was mumbling to himself and would not answer any of Officer Shelby’s questions. Mr. Crutcher kept putting his hands in his pockets and Officer Shelby kept telling him to show his hands. At that point, Mr. Crutcher began walking towards the abandoned vehicle with his hands held up and was not responding to any of Officer Shelby’s commands to stop,” the affidavit claims.
In the dash cam video, you see Crutcher walking away from an officer and toward his vehicle with his hands up.
Shortly after that, Crutcher was shot. He was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Shelby’s attorney, Scott Wood, claims she was hyper-focused on the situation at the time of the shooting, adding that she didn’t hear other officers arrive at the scene. He says she experienced “auditory exclusion,” a condition in which people in high-stress situations often don’t hear sounds around them.
On Monday, Shelby took the stand in her own defense.
According to the Associated Press, she told the jury that a training video of an officer being fatally shot during a traffic stop was running through her mind when she encountered Crutcher.
Shelby says she shot Crutcher when she saw him reach into his SUV through a partially open window. She testified that her training taught her not to let suspects pull their arm back out of a vehicle because they might have a gun and have already decided to shoot the officer.
Although Crutcher did not have a gun on him or in his vehicle, Shelby says she didn’t know that at the time.
Crutcher’s family and attorneys claim that the windows to the SUV were rolled up at the time of the shooting.