A reserve deputy faces possible jail time for fatally shooting an unarmed suspect last week in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Robert Bates, 73, was charged Monday with manslaughter for the shooting death of ex-con Eric Harris. The charge came only one day after police video emerged that showed Harris being shot. Bates was off camera, but the victim could be heard screaming in agony.
“Mr Bates is charged with Second-Degree Manslaughter involving culpable negligence … the omission to do something which a reasonably careful person would do or the lack of ordinary care and caution,” the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Bates has reportedly claimed he meant to fire his stun gun, not his firearm.
“He shot me! Oh my God, he shot me!” Harris screamed over and over while being pinned to the pavement after police tackled him following a short pursuit on foot after he fled during a gun-buying sting.
Bates claims he meant to shoot his stun gun. He was often on patrol, even though he’s not part of the force, due to his donations of equipment to the department. Perhaps even the cameras that captured the incident, according to the Tulsa World.
Video released early Sunday by the Tulsa Police Department shows Harris writhing in agony after being shot. He complains he is unable to breathe.
“F**k your breath,” shouts one of the officers pinning Harris to the pavement. The suspect later died at a nearby hospital.
Please note, this video is very graphic.
A gun shot seemingly comes out of nowhere and Harris screams in agony as a man, later identified as Bates, apologizes and puts his firearm on the pavement.
Another officer takes the handgun while Harris screams out in agony. The arresting officers claim Harris said he ingested the drug PCP earlier in the day, according to the World.
Outrage has grown in the days since the shooting as local media uncovered the circumstances under which Bates found himself shooting a pistol that he thought was a stun gun.
Bates, a former cop who served one year on the force in the mid 1960s, has donated thousands of dollars in cars, guns and other equipment to Tulsa police, the World reported earlier this week. The department has a program that allows wealthy benefactors to ride along with active officers as deputies.
According to a department spokesperson, Bates is one of many wealthy people in the 130-strong reserve deputy program.
“There are lots of wealthy people in the reserve program,” Maj. Shannon Clark explained to the paper. “Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all.”
The footage came from sunglass cameras similar to ones recently bought for officers by Bates, said Clark. She could not confirm if he donated those specific cameras.
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