The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) reserve deputy who fatally shot a man last week bought his way into the department by lavishing officials with vehicles, vacations and other expensive gifts, according to reports.
Robert Bates, 73, has bought at least five vehicles, a $US5,000 camera and donated other equipment to the TCSO since becoming a reserve deputy in 2008, the Tulsa World reported. He also took higher-ups on trips to the Caribbean and other far-flung locations, according to the Daily Beast.
“Bob Bates came on board because he had all this money,” a former reserve deputy told the Daily Beast, adding that the sheriff and others would “go on these cruises in the Bahamas and in Mexico. Another former deputy claimed to the site that Bates was planning a Florida fishing trip for the department until last week’s shooting of Eric Harris.
“The sheriff just gave him free rein because he was treating him right,” the deputy continued. “He bought his way into this position.”
Scott Wood, Bates’ lawyer, confirmed his client’s junkets with law enforcement personnel.
“I know that he vacations in the Bahamas, I know that other members in the Sheriff’s Office have gone with him,” Wood told the Daily Beast. “But it would be like if we were college friends and we all said, ‘Let’s go there.'”
Bates is also confirmed by the Tulsa World to have bought the following items for the sheriff’s office:
- 2008 Dodge Charger
- 2009 Dodge Charger
- 2009 Crown Victoria
- 2007 Ford F-150
- 2010 Chevy Tahoe
- $US5,000 “surveillance camera” with lens kit
The insurance executive also donated the following items to the department:
- 1997 Toyota Avalon
- Computer to be placed in one of the above vehicles
Previous reports suggested he bought a dozen sunglass cameras similar to the ones used to capture the footage of Harris, 44, being tackled and shot, but it still is not clear if that is the case.
Bates also donated $US2,500 to the 2012 re-election campaign of Sheriff Stanley Glanz and served as the chairman of his election staff, records show. No other donor, reserve deputy or otherwise, was as generous in their giving to the TCSO.
“A lot of those guys will donate gear, will donate time, will pay for training, they will sponsor a baseball or softball team,” Albin told the Tulsa World. Two reserves have donated used cars and others allow for the use of their personal helicopters − but only while they specifically are working in their volunteer capacity.
Bates is not the average reserve deputy. Perhaps due to his generosity, he is reportedly the only volunteer that has been allowed to tag along with the elite task force that was pursuing Harris, 44, shortly before the fatal shot was fired.
“These guys run and gun 24 hours a day,” Albin explained to the paper. “Bob is in a position with his company to be able to come and do that.”
Harris’ family took issue with Bates standing within the TCSO in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon:
“We do not believe it is reasonable for a 73-year-old insurance executive to be involved in a dangerous undercover sting operation. We do not believe it is reasonable for Bob Bates to be carrying a gun that was not issued by TCSO. We do not believe it is reasonable — or responsible — for TCSO to accept gifts from a wealthy citizen who wants to be a ‘pay to play’ cop.”
Bates turned himself in Tuesday to face a second-degree manslaughter charge and was released on a $US25,000 bail.
The TCSO has not responded to several requests for comment left this week by Business Insider.
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