editorial21

A not guilty plea has been entered on behalf of an Oklahoma police officer charged with first-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed Black man.

Tulsa officer Betty Shelby is charged in the Sept. 16 death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher. Prosecutors allege Shelby acted unreasonably when she shot Crutcher after she encountered his vehicle abandoned on the street.

Shelby, who is White, told investigators she feared for her life.

This undated photo provided by the Tulsa Oklahoma Police Department shows officer Betty Shelby. Police say Tulsa officer Shelby fired the fatal shot that killed 40 year-old Terence Crutcher, Sept. 16, 2016. The police chief in Tulsa says Crutcher, a black man fatally shot by a white police officer responding to a stalled vehicle, had no weapon on him or in his SUV. Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Monday Sept. 19, 2016, that an investigation is underway into the shooting death. (Tulsa Police Department via AP)

This undated photo provided by the Tulsa Oklahoma Police Department shows officer Betty Shelby.  (Tulsa Police Department via AP)

A lawyer for Shelby says she was so hyper-focused on the situation that she didn’t hear other officers arrive or the deadly gunshot she fired.

Attorney Scott Wood said Shelby experienced what is commonly called “auditory exclusion,” a condition in which people in high-stress situations often don’t hear sounds around them.

However prosecutors allege in court documents that Shelby “reacted unreasonably” by escalating the situation with Crutcher. Videos from a police helicopter and a dashboard camera of the shooting and its aftermath showed Crutcher, who was unarmed, walking away from Shelby with his arms in the air.

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