Tulsa, Okla., Police Officer Betty Shelby is pleading not guilty in the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, for which she has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, the Associated Press reports.
Shannon McMurray, Shelby's attorney, entered the not guilty plea on her client's behalf, the newswire notes. Shelby did not say anything at the court appearance Friday.
Prosecutors accuse Shelby of acting unreasonably when she shot Crutcher, whom she encountered on a Tulsa highway after his vehicle broke down. Shelby said that she feared for her life. Video of the fatal incident shows Crutcher walking away from responding officers with his hands in the air before he was killed.
Another attorney, Scott Wood, claimed that Shelby went temporarily deaf at the time of the Sept. 16 encounter, being so hyperfocused that she did not hear other officers arrive on the scene—or the fatal gunshot she fired, the New York Daily News reports.
“She didn't hear the gunshot, didn't hear the sirens coming up behind her just prior to the shot,” Wood said Thursday.
Wood also claimed that the condition, sometimes called "auditory exclusion," happens in high-stress situations in which people tune out the sounds around them.
“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,” Wood said.
Shelby's next court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 29.