Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday for the trial of Betty Shelby, a white Tulsa, Okla., police officer who shot and killed Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man whose car had broken down on a highway.
Shelby, 43, is facing charges of first-degree manslaughter, and as Reuters notes, she could face from four years to life in prison if convicted of the September 2016 killing.
Crutcher’s death sparked protests across the nation as yet another example of racial bias in law enforcement. Shelby, who gave an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes in March, insisted that the shooting had nothing to do with race and everything to do with Crutcher’s “actions” and “behaviors.”
Police footage of the incident shows Crutcher with his hands in the air walking back toward his vehicle shortly before being shot. In another video taken from a police helicopter, someone can be heard stating that Crutcher looked like a “bad dude”—a comment that also sparked outrage.
According to Reuters, opening statements in Shelby’s trial are likely to begin Wednesday, with the trial expected to conclude by May 15.
Prosecutors are arguing that Shelby had no reason to open fire on Crutcher, who was walking away from officers with his hands in the air, accusing her of turning a routine traffic matter into a deadly incident.
“Officer Shelby acted unreasonably by escalating the situation,” reads an arrest affidavit that also indicates that “she became emotionally involved to the point that she overreacted.”
Shelby’s lawyer is arguing that she acted out of fear for her life, believing that Crutcher was reaching for a weapon.
“I’m feeling that his intent is to do me harm, and I keep thinking, ‘Don’t do this. Please don’t do this. Don’t make this happen,’” Shelby told CBS back in March.
Read more at Reuters.