TULSA, Okla. — A reserve deputy has been charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a man who was killed during a sting operation in Tulsa.
Bob Bates, 73, an insurance executive who moonlighted in the law enforcement job is accused of fatally wounding Eric Harris, 44, during an undercover gun deal that took place April 2.
“Mr. Bates is charged with Second-Degree Manslaughter involving culpable negligence,” said District Attorney Stephen Kunzwieler. “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.'”
During the operation, Harris became suspicious and ran when he saw police cars pulling up. Officers chased and caught him, tackling him to the ground. As other officers joined the struggle, the sheriff’s department says, Bates yelled a warning that he was about to use a taser.
As the struggle unfolded on a video taken by a police body cam, a gunshot can be heard, immediately followed by an apology from Bates. “Oh, I shot him! I’m sorry,” he apparently says.
Harris later died at a hospital.
The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Offices says the shooting was an accident, according to CBS News affiliate KOTV. They say that as Harris tried to run, Bates intended to grab his taser, but instead grabbed his firearm.
“Deputy Bates did not commit a crime. Reserve Deputy Bates was a victim, a true victim, of slips and capture,” said Sergeant Jim Clark.
His family later reviewed the video and released a statement, charging that it was “heavily edited.”
“This video shows a portion of the events which led to the untimely death of our loved one, Eric Harris,” the statement said. “We have also heard TCSO’s version of the incident and the findings from its internal investigation. We are saddened, shocked, confused and disturbed.”