Judge denies motion to dismiss case against Betty Shelby; trial date set

Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby will stand trial.

Shelby appeared in court Wednesday hoping to have her case dismissed, but a judge denied her attorneys' recently-filed motion to quash the case.

Shelby is charged with first-degree manslaughter after fatally shooting 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in September. Her attorneys filed the motion to dismiss the case Jan. 13, saying a Tulsa homicide sergeant told District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler he filed an "unwinnable case."

At Wednesday's hearing, the defense attacked the concept that Shelby was emotionally out of control at the time. They argued she acted professionally and that there is no evidence to support the charge of first-degree manslaughter in the heat of passion.

"We'll move forward and get about the business of representing Betty, as we have been, and stay optimistic," said attorney Shannon McMurray. "As I've always said, as the evidence continues to unfold in this case a jury will find Betty not guilty."

In court, McMurray noted that officers are trained to shoot if a suspect reaches into a car against police orders, and officers are told not to let the hand come out again or the best they can hope for is a draw.

Shelby's defense team plans to appeal the judge's decision, but Kunzweiler says he thinks they will prevail and go to trial.

"You heard Judge (Doug) Drummond say this is a question of fact for a jury to determine and that's really the issue," said Kunzweiler.

The DA says he disagrees with the argument that there was a rush to judgment in Shelby's case. He says the charges were filed based on law enforcement reports, talks with the medical examiner and an inspection of Terence Crutcher's car.

"I think we had plenty of evidence to at least file charges in this case. Nothing's changed. Even with what I've received, nothing's changed," said Kunzweiler.

He says he's tried many police shooting cases but has never had one that came with helicopter and dashcam videos of the gunfire.

Shelby's trial is set to begin May 8.

Read more stories about the Terence Crutcher shooting.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off