Despite the fact Terence Crutcher had his hands up when he was fatally shot, Officer Betty Shelby says she didn’t do anything wrong.
Her latest justification: temporary deafness.
The Tulsa police officer, who shot and killed the unarmed 40-year-old African-American man when his car broke down on the side of the road, now claims that as she pulled the trigger, she experienced “auditory exclusion” — temporary loss of hearing that occurs under high stress, according to her lawyer Scott Wood.
Auditory exclusion is often related to another phenomenon, “tunnel vision," which occurs when the field of view is narrowed down due to “the slowing down of time” inside the mind.
As a result, Wood said, Shelby couldn’t hear the sirens of other patrol cars or even her own shot.
“She didn't hear the gunshot, didn't hear the sirens coming up behind her just prior to the shot,” Wood said. “And it's not only a common phenomenon described in literature, but it's the No. 1 perceptual distortion by people I have represented who have been involved in shootings — diminished sound or complete auditory exclusion.”
But does it change anything? Does it justify killing Crutcher?
It doesn’t, really. Released footage of the shooting clearly shows Crutcher had his hands up high above his head when he started walking away from Shelby, towards his car.
And even if Shelby couldn’t hear anything, she probably could see it.
Wood added Shelby’s actions were justified because she believed — believed being the operative word here — that he had a gun, and “…if you think someone has a gun, you don’t get your Taser out,” the attorney added.
Here it is important to mention that no weapon was found on Crutcher nor in his stalled vehicle. Plus, Shelby wasn’t responding to a call about a suspected armed person, so her preconceived “belief” regarding Crutcher, which ultimately took his life, is not only wrong but also questionable.
Shelby has been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting. She spent a little over 20 minutes in custody and was released after posting $50,000 in bail.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Handout via Reuters