Police Abuse

Tulsa Deputy Who Fatally Shot Eric Harris Found Guilty, Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

Robert Bates said he thought he was shooting his Taser, and was convicted of second degree manslaughter.



Robert Bates, a Tulsa County reserve deputy who fatally shot Eric Harris and claimed he thought he had reached for his taser, was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and given the maximum sentence of four years in prison.

The 73-year-old Bates shot Harris after he and other deputies were pursuing Harris over allegedly selling a gun to an undercover cop. Bates was heard saying, "oh, I shot him, I'm sorry" on sunglass cam footage that captured portions of the incident. "Fuck your breath," one deputy tells Harris after he's been shot. When he complained that he'd done nothing to deserve to be shot, a deputy told him to shut up. "You fucking ran." Harris died in the hospital later that day.

Witnesses at the trial testified Bates shot Harris seconds after selling the gun and being brought to the ground and restrained, according to the Tulsa World. Prosecutors also argued Bates showed a lack of "reasonable" care by volunteering for the sting the night before. Other deputies testified they saw Bates sleeping in his car before the operation against Harris, who the deputies testified they told Bates was dangerous and likely armed.

Bates' attorney told the World that the "massive amount" of negative attention drawn to the case "created a climate in which it was virtually impossible to defend" him, and said they would consider appeals when they "understand more about our options going forward."

Bates was allegedly given credit by the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office for field training he didn't receive, and Sheriff Stanley Glanz resigned in the wake of the growing scandal around the Harris shooting.

Glanz was eventually indicted on two misdemeanors, in relation to repeatedly denying the release of a 2009 internal investigation into Bates, a friend of Glanz's, as well as using a county-owned and –fueled SUV while taking a $600 a month stipend for using his own car for official business.