The attorney for Betty Shelby reportedly said the Tulsa officer suffered from temporary hearing loss during the shooting of Terence Crutcher. According to Scott Wood, Shelby did not hear the additional officers coming behind her, nor did she hear the fatal gunshot that she fired.
Auditory exclusion is the phenomenon that Wood claimed Shelby experienced. Wood explained that when individuals are in high-stress situations, they often lose the ability to hear the sounds around them.
"She didn't hear the gunshot, didn't hear the sirens coming up behind her just prior to the shot," Wood said Thursday. "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."
Shelby is expected to plead not guilty at her arraignment today and Wood is expected to present the auditory exclusion excuse to jurors at trial.
Shelby faces a first-degree manslaughter for the September 16 shooting of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher. At the time of the shooting, Crutcher was unarmed and had his hands in the air.
Prosecutors believe that Shelby responded inappropriately to the incident and fired her weapon out of fear and poor judgment.
Shelby told investigators Crutcher would not comply with her orders and that she feared for her life and thought Crutcher was going to kill her, according to an affidavit filed with the manslaughter charge.
If she uses auditory exclusion in her case, Shelby will join a long list of other officers who have used the excuse after a fatal shooting. In an interview of 80 officers involved in 113 different shooting cases, 82% percent of the cases cited auditory exclusion.
(Photo: Tulsa County Jail)