The shooting death of unarmed Black man Eric Harris in Oklahoma sent shock waves through social media with many still sorting out the pain of recent events involving police shootings. Charges have been brought against the volunteer deputy officer who mistakenly pulled his gun on Harris instead of what he thought was his Taser.
Robert C. Bates, the 73-year-old reserve deputy who shot and killed Harris, was formally charged with second-degree manslaughter. Bates, a local insurance company executive who donated weapons to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, was defended by Tulsa police who say the shooting was a mistake. Bates was assisting police in a sting operation to nab Harris, who was attempting to sell guns to an undercover officer. A statement from District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler’s office was released Monday (April 13) evening.
From the statement:
Mr. Bates is charged with Second-Degree Manslaughter involving culpable negligence. Oklahoma law defines culpable negligence as ‘the omission to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the lack of the usual ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions.
Video of the incident was released last week and the disturbing clip reveals that Bates may have been remorseful but the cops he was assisting at the time were not. When a downed Harris screamed out that he was shot and couldn’t breath, one cop is heard screaming expletives and saying “f*ck your breath.”
Bates formerly worked for the police in 1964 but just for one year.
Photo: Tulsa County Sherrif’s Department