Tulsa Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty in Fatal Shooting of Terence Crutcher

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Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge of first-degree manslaughter in the killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man.

Looking anxious, Shelby, 42, spoke only once with a “yes” in the brief arraignment to confirm her identity. Her attorney entered the not guilty plea.

The judge set a Nov. 29 date for a preliminary hearing where the court will decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.

Shelby, whose hair was pulled back tightly in a ponytail, wore a white blouse and dark pants, as she was escorted from a holding area past news cameras to the courtroom.

Shelby was booked into jail on Sept. 23 and released on $50,000 bond.

Members of Crutcher’s family and their attorneys were also present at the hearing.

Shelby was charged with one count of manslaughter committed in the heat of passion for the Sept. 16 killing on a highway where Crutcher’s vehicle had apparently stalled. Video of the shooting shows that the Crutcher, 40, had at least one hand raised at the time he was shot.

The charge carries a penalty of four years to life in prison.

The shooting by the white officer comes amid several police-involved shootings of African-Americans. A fatal shooting in Charlotte, N.C., five days later sparked public street protests that led authorities to deploy the National Guard.

One key difference in the two cases is that Tulsa authorities quickly released the video of the Crutcher killing while Charlotte police initially balked at releasing their footage.

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SOURCE: USA Today, Doug Stanglin