(TULSA, Okla.) — The Oklahoma police officer charged with first-degree manslaughter in the recent fatal shooting of an unarmed black man pleaded not guilty at her first court appearance Friday.
Tulsa officer Betty Shelby did not speak in the courtroom, but one of her attorneys, Shannon McMurray, entered the not-guilty plea on her behalf. Shelby is due back in court on Nov. 29.
Shelby is accused of fatally shooting 40-year-old Terence Crutcher on Sept. 16, after she encountered the man’s SUV in the middle of a two-lane roadway while it was still running. Shelby’s other attorney, Scott Wood, previously told ABC News that Crutcher ignored more than two dozen commands from Shelby and that he allegedly reached into the driver’s side open window of his SUV before the officer perceived a threat and shot him.
Crutcher died at the hospital where he was taken after he was shot, police said.
The Crutcher family’s attorneys, Benjamin L. Crump and Damario Solomon-Simmons, maintain that the window was up, evidenced by the blood splattered on it when he was shot. The family and their attorneys attended the court hearing in Tulsa Friday.
According to an affidavit by an investigator with the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office, Shelby reacted “unreasonably by escalating the situation from a confrontation” with Crutcher. Shelby became “emotionally involved” to the point that she overreacted, and she was “not able to see any weapons or bulges indicating a weapon was present,” the affidavit states.
The Tulsa Police Department released video last week from a patrol car dash-cam and from a police helicopter that arrived to the scene. Both videos show Crutcher with his hands up in the air moments before he was shot.
Shelby turned herself into the Tulsa County Jail last week. The white police officer was arrested and released less than 30 minutes later on $50,000 bond. She faces a prison sentence of at least four years if she is found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, according to the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office.
The Tulsa Police Department has not fired Shelby, but instead has placed her on unpaid leave. She was originally put on paid administrative leave until the charge was filed.
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