Deputy Charged with Manslaughter for Gunning Down Unarmed Man

Originally published on April 14, 2015, at

A reserve sheriff’s deputy was charged with second-degree manslaughter on Monday after video captured him shooting an unarmed man on the ground. The deputy immediately apologized claiming he believed that he was firing his Taser when he pulled the trigger on his gun and killed the suspect. The victim’s family has accused the Tulsa County Sheriff of protecting the deputy due to his political connections to the sheriff.

At 10 a.m. on April 2, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) Violent Crimes Task Force attempted a sting operation to catch Eric Harris selling a 9mm semiautomatic pistol to an undercover cop on video. Surveillance footage revealed Harris meeting the undercover officer in a parking lot and retrieving a gun from his backpack. Harris placed the gun on the floor of the vehicle before noticing officers arriving to arrest him. Instead of complying, Harris fled on foot with officers in pursuit.

Video from a deputy’s sunglass camera shows a deputy exiting his patrol car and tackling Harris to the ground. As the officers attempt to restrain Harris, 73-year-old reserve sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates can be heard off-camera shouting, “Taser! Taser!”

Instead of firing his Taser at Harris who was being held down by deputies, Bates fired a single bullet from his gun into Harris. Bates immediately dropped his gun while exclaiming, “Oh! I shot him. I’m sorry.”

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