TULSA, Okla. — Attorneys on Tuesday finished calling witnesses in the manslaughter case against a white Oklahoma police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man last year, clearing the way for closing arguments.
Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby’s lawyers asked Judge Doug Drummond to declare a mistrial on Tuesday, saying prosecutors improperly implied that Shelby was guilty because she took several days to make an official statement about her actions on the night of the Sept. 16 shooting.
Drummond refused the request and later told jurors to return Wednesday for closing arguments.
Shelby pleaded not guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher. If convicted, the 43-year-old officer faces four years to life in prison.
Prosecutors argue that Shelby overreacted when she shot Crutcher. Shelby’s attorneys have said Crutcher refused Shelby’s commands to lie down during a two-minute period before police cameras recorded the shooting.
Shelby testified that she feared for her life and thought Crutcher was reaching into his stalled SUV for a gun.
He didn’t have one on him or in the vehicle.