Tulsa Cop Had Odd 'Distortion' Before Shooting: Lawyer

Attorney says Betty Shelby went temporarily deaf before shooting Terence Crutcher
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2016 9:43 AM CDT
Tulsa Cop Went Temporarily Deaf Before Shooting: Attorney
This photo provided by the Tulsa County Inmate Information Center shows Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby.   (Tulsa County Inmate Information Center via AP)

Betty Shelby's defense team tried (and failed) to get her a special early arraignment Thursday for the shooting death of unarmed black man Terence Crutcher, hoping to avoid the "utter chaos" of the media covering the high-profile case, the Tulsa World reports. Now Shelby is set to head back to court Friday, as per the original schedule, notes USA Today, where the Tulsa, Okla., cop will find out a date for the preliminary hearing that will determine whether there's enough evidence to go to trial. And Shelby's attorney, Scott Wood, who says she'll plead not guilty to first-degree manslaughter, laid out an interesting new defense Thursday for his client: "auditory exclusion," in which people experiencing it don't hear the sounds going on around them during high-stress situations, per the AP and Huffington Post.

"She didn't hear the gunshot, didn't hear the sirens coming up behind her just prior to the shot," Wood says, per the AP, calling it "the No. 1 perceptual distortion by people I have represented who have been involved in shootings." David Klinger, a U of Missouri-St. Louis law professor—and ex-LAPD cop who fatally shot someone himself as a rookie—notes he interviewed 80 law enforcement officers who had shot citizens in 113 discrete cases, and that in 82% of those cases, "diminished sound" was the most common perceptual distortion they experienced. Other distortions can include time warping (where everything seems to move in slow motion) and tunnel vision. But Twitter is balking, with one poster noting, "Even if she was temporarily deaf, #BettyShelby still should have SEEN that #TerrenceCrutcher wasn't a threat." Ex-NFL player Shannon Sharpe simply says, "Is this for real?" (More Terence Crutcher stories.)

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