Officer Betty Shelby mugshot

Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby now claims she was temporarily deaf during her encounter with Terence Crutcher that resulted in her fatally shooting him.

The attorney for Shelby, who has been charged with first-degree manslaughter, claims she experienced “auditory exclusion,” a form of temporary hearing loss occurring under high stress. This is allegedly why she didn’t hear the sirens of the other patrol cars arriving on the scene or Officer Tyler Turnbough when he said he had a taser.


The probable cause affidavit for her arrest states that another officer told Shelby he had a Taser ready to deploy before she shot Crutcher, who was unarmed, on Sept. 16. But her attorney told the Tulsa World on Friday that she never heard that comment, also not realizing other officers had arrived and were standing with her.

Scott Wood, who represents Shelby, said she experienced “auditory exclusion.” Wood described it as a phenomenon officers often experience in critical incidents that results in a temporary loss of hearing.

Because of that, Wood said, Shelby didn’t hear other officers arrive with their cars’ sirens activated or approach her. Nor did she hear Officer Tyler Turnbough tell her that he had his Taser ready because she was “totally focused” on Crutcher, he said.

“She doesn’t have any recollection of that at all,” Wood said.

Crutcher, a black man, was fatally shot by Shelby, who is white, on a north Tulsa street moments after he walked slowly to his parked SUV with his hands raised.

Whether he lowered his left hand to reach through the window — prompting the fatal shot — is in dispute, but the 40-year-old was found to be unarmed and had no weapons inside the vehicle.

Shelby, 42, surrendered with a lawyer at the Tulsa Jail at 1:11 a.m. Friday, according to her arrest report. She was booked and then posted bond.

I wonder if her hearing was restored the moment Terence’s body hit the ground.

Your thoughts on this?