We perish because we know not… #TLENews
Staff at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were reportedly ordered to falsify the training records and firearms certificates of a reserve deputy who mistook his firearm for a Taser, leading to the shooting death of an unarmed black man earlier this month.
Robert Bates, 73, a wealthy insurance executive who worked as a volunteer reserve deputy with the Tulsa County Police, was awarded “credit for field training he never took and firearms certifications he should not have received,” sources told the Tulsa World.
It was also revealed that “at least three” of Bates’ supervisors were transferred from the department after refusing to sign off on his state-required training, sources speaking on condition of anonymity told the Tulsa World.
Tulsa Country Sheriff Stanley Glanz told a Tulsa radio station that Bates had been licensed to use three firearms, including a handgun he mistook for a stun gun when he fatally shot Harris while detaining him. However, the Sheriff’s Office said it has not been able to find Bates’ certification paperwork.
The Sheriff’s Office has released a summary listing training courses Bates had been given credit for, but have not released documents showing which supervisors signed off on that training.
Undersheriff Tim Albin rejected claims that Bates’ training records were falsified, and that supervisors involved were transferred to less desirable assignments.
“The training record speaks for itself. I have absolutely no knowledge of what you are talking about,”Albin said. “There aren’t any secrets in law enforcement. Zero! Those types of issues would have come up.”
To further complicate the case, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Major Shannon Clark told the Los Angeles Times that Bates had donated “a couple cars” as well as contributing “thousands of dollars” to Sheriff Glanz’s reelection campaign in 2012, adding: “He isn’t the only millionaire we’ve got” in the police reserve program.
Clark played down the financial contributions, saying it played no part in Bates becoming a reserve deputy.
“People thought he bought his way into the reserve program, and that’s not true.”
On Tuesday, Bates turned himself in to authorities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he is accused of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Harris.
In 2006, an FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin cited by AP reported the total number of reserve officers nationwide was around 400,000.
The employment of older reservists, such as Bates, is rather common practice, according to reports by AP. Oklahoma has no age restrictions, for example, and data available on Washington, DC, reservists in 2011 noted that 42 percent of the city’s auxiliaries were 50 or older.
Full-time police officers have a mixed opinion of their reservist colleagues.
“Anyone who does another man’s job for free is a glory hound,” said one officer to PoliceOne.com for an article on reservists. “If they wanted to ‘protect and serve’ then take the test and take the job and don’t ‘play’ at another man’s calling!”
Oklahoma requires each reserve officer to go through at least 240 hours of training on “legal basics, investigative procedures and use of firearms,” according to AP, plus 320 hours of additional instruction, which amounts to half that required of a full-time police officer.
Bates, who served as an officer with the Tulsa Police Department from 1964 to 1965, had successfully completed the required training, and has updated his reservist certification every year, Clark told AP.
He has accepted full responsibility for his actions, even speaking to media when advised by his attorney not to.
To his credit, Bates confirmed that he fired the fatal shot. “It was me,” he admitted to Tulsa World last week. “My attorney has advised me not to comment. As much as I would like to, I can’t.”
An unpaid Oklahoma reserve deputy was charged Monday with manslaughter in the death of a suspect whose shooting was captured on videotape.
Second-degree manslaughter charges were filed against reserve deputy Robert Charles “Bob” Bates, 73, in the shooting death of Eric Courtney Harris, 44, District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler’s office in Tulsa confirmed.
“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,'” Kunzweiler said in a statement.
Bates has been a reserve deputy since 2008 and was assigned to the sheriff’s Violent Crimes Task Force, the district attorney said.
Earlier in the day, Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz described Bates as a longtime friend who made “an error” last week when he fatally shot an unarmed man trying to flee deputies during an undercover operation to retrieve stolen guns, the Tulsa Worldreported. The newspaper said Bates had donated thousands of dollars in equipment to the sheriff’s department since signing on in 2008 as an unpaid reserve deputy.
“He made an error,” Glanz said. “How many errors are made in an operating room every week?”
The release of the dramatic video has fueled controversy surrounding the shooting of a suspect who was already on the ground.
Bates says he meant to shoot the suspect with a stun gun during the confrontation April 2 but accidentally drew and fired his .38-caliber handgun.
The video shows Harris running away from officers pursuing him on foot. Harris is caught and put to the ground, where a struggle ensues.
Bates arrives at the scene and a single gunshot is heard, then, “Oh, I’m sorry. I shot him.” Harris is heard screaming “He shot me. Oh my God!” adding that he is having trouble breathing. A deputy responds “(Expletive) your breath.”
Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark told the World that Bates donates his time and is a highly regarded member of the Reserve Deputy Program. He has also donated multiple vehicles, guns and stun guns, Clark said.
“There are lots of wealthy people in the reserve program,” he said. “Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all.”
The department website says “dedicated reserve deputies work full time jobs in the community and volunteer their time in a myriad of events such as the Special Olympics and Tulsa State Fair.
Bates, an insurance executive, is classified as an “advanced reserve” and can do anything a full-time deputy can do, Clark told the World. In fact, Bates was assigned to the sheriff’s Violent Crimes Task Force.
The video of the shooting was released at the request of the Harris family.
Tulsa police Sgt. Jim Clark, who investigated the case, on Friday determined that the shooting was not a crime and did not violate department policy.
“Reserve Deputy Bates did not commit a crime,” he said. “There’s no other determination I could come to.”
Clark cited “slip and capture,” a psychological phenomenon where, under stress, someone’s behavior “slips” off the intended path after being “captured” by a stronger response demanded by the brain.
Clark determined that Bates was a “victim” of the phenomenon.
Dan Smolen, lawyer for the Harris family, told the Tulsa World that Clark’s ruling was “premature and ill-advised.”
Smolen has also challenged a Tulsa Fire Department report that Harris was”uncooperative and combative” as firefighters attempted to assess and treat his wound.
Smolen said Harris could hardly be combative since he was struggling with labored breathing and his hands were cuffed.
“It’s most likely the word combative is being used because that’s what they’re being told by the Sheriff’s Office,” Smolen told the World. “The other alternative is their use of the word combative is more a description of Mr. Harris struggling to get air and kind of writhing in pain from the gunshot wound.”
Allegedly, it was a mistake.
That’s the blasé explanation Oklahoma officials gave after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a white deputy who accidentally pulled his gun when he meant to use his Taser.
The botched encounter was captured on a disturbing video released by police on Friday — nine days after the fatal Tulsa shooting.
“He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I’m losing my breath,” Eric Harris says as he struggles on the ground following the April 2 shooting, which flew under the radar until video emerged a week later.
“F— your breath,” a callous officer can be heard saying. “Shut the f— up!”
Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, 73, shouted “Taser! Taser!” before pulling the trigger on his gun, firing a round into Harris.
“I shot him!” the former policeman says, dropping his gun. “I’m sorry.”
Bates was assisting other deputies who were trying to take Harris into custody after the felon fled from police during a sting operation, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office’s said.
“You shouldn’t have f—–g ran!” another deputy screams, as Harris is held down by his neck and head.
Harris, who was in his 40s, was pronounced dead about an hour after the shooting, authorities said.
He had bolted from officers who were trying to arrest him for selling a 9 mm. semiautomatic pistol and ammunition to undercover cops.
Harris, who was unarmed, had reportedly done time for assault and battery on an officer.
He was “absolutely a threat when going down,” Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clark said at a news conference.
Sheriff’s Capt. Billy McKelvey claims the arresting officers were not aware Harris had been shot, despite the gunshot noise and Bates’ admission. They called paramedics and firefighters, and rendered aid when they realized, McKelvey said.
“He made an inadvertent mistake,” McKelvey said.
Sgt. Dave Walker told the Tulsa World that police “would not investigate the death unless the sheriff’s office asked them to, and they have not asked us to.”