A video released by Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department shows Reserve Deputy, Robert Bates, bringing Eric Courtney Harris to the ground and using his pistol instead of a Taser to shoot the 44-year-old. After he realized his ‘mistake’, Bates dropped his gun and said, “I shot him, I’m sorry.” When Harris told the cops “I’m losing my breath,” an officer mocked “Fuck your breath!” The police made no efforts to treat Harris for the gunshot wound; he died one hour later.
At a press conference, Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clark, claimed that Bates was a “true victim” of something called “slips and capture” — where a person’s behavior can “slip” off their intended path in a high stress situation and be “captured” by a stronger response. According to Clark, Bates thought he was holding his Taser and not his firearm when he fired the round that killed Harris. Clark added the Tulsa County Sheriffs Office’s investigation concluded that Bates did not commit a crime and no policy violations occurred.
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Capt. Billy McKelvey, told reporters that deputies were not aware Harris had been shot, having not heard the weapon discharge. McKelvey noted that Bates’ pistol and Taser had similar weights and both had laser sights. “He made an inadvertent mistake,” he said.
Bates is a 73-year-old insurance executive, a wealthy donor to the sheriff’s department and not a full-time officer. He is classified as “advanced reserve,” the highest level of reserve deputy, a position that permits him to “do anything a full-time deputy can do.”
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