Tags: Tulsa | police | reservist | taser | shooting

Cop Who Mistook Gun for Taser Is 73, Millionaire Reservist

By    |   Monday, 13 Apr 2015 03:47 PM

The reserve police officer who mistakenly opened fire on a Tulsa man, thinking he'd pulled a Taser but instead grabbed his handgun, is a 73-year-old former insurance company owner who was described as a millionaire, the Tulsa World reported.

Robert Charles Bates was a reserve deputy in good standing since 2008 and was assigned to the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office Violent Crimes Task Force, where he was working undercover on a meth investigation when the shooting occurred, the World said.

He is under investigation after discharging his service weapon and killing Eric Courtney Harris, 44. Bates' name was released to media after the shooting and was confirmed by a World reporter.

"It was me," Bates told the newspaper. "My attorney has advised me not to comment. As much as I would like to, I can't."

Maj. Shannon Clark of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office told the World that Bates, who had been named Reserve Deputy of the Year in 2011, was trained to be on such an investigation where a team made an undercover buy of a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition from Harris on April 2. Harris later fled arrest and was shot.

"What I will say is that the deputy had the specialty training to be assigned to this task force, similar to what a full-time deputy would have had," Clark said, noting that Bates was one of about 100 reserve deputies hired by the sheriff's office.

According to a news release, Harris told medical personnel treating him at the scene that he was "possibly under the influence of Phencyclidine, a street drug commonly known as PCP," police said. He later died at a Tulsa-area hospital. Police have thus far classified the shooting as "a tragic event."

Bates, who had previously worked as a full-time officer, donated to the sheriff's re-election bid, offering him $2,500 in the 2012 election, the World reported. He was also a longtime insurance executive who owned his own company.

The Washington Post described Bates as "playing cop." It noted that in a video released by police, Bates is heard saying: "Oh, I shot him. I'm sorry."

The Post noted that Harris' death is one of two shootings in the past month in which a white policeman has shot an unarmed black man.

The shooting was captured on a police body camera video. Harris is heard saying: "He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I'm losing my breath."

Police showed little sympathy, according to the footage, the Post noted. "F--- your breath," one officer responds. "Shut the f--- up!"

A second deputy is heard screaming: "You shouldn't have f-----g ran!"

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The reserve police officer who mistakenly opened fire on a Tulsa man, thinking he'd pulled a Taser but instead grabbed his handgun, is a 73-year-old former insurance company owner who was described as a millionaire, the Tulsa World reported.
Tulsa, police, reservist, taser, shooting
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2015-47-13
Monday, 13 Apr 2015 03:47 PM
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