Video of the shooting death of Eric Harris is leading to nationwide protest, with footage showing a 73-year-old volunteer police officer accidentally fire a shot into the unarmed man’s back while other officers yelled at him and ridiculed his cries that he could not breathe.
The footage, which comes amid a growing number of highly publicized and videotaped instances of police brutality, is now leading to calls for charges to be brought against the officer who fired the shot and is also drawing outrage at the response from police.
The officer who killed Harris was identified as Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, who donated money to the Tulsa Sheriff’s Department and took training in order to work alongside police.
This week, police released the Eric Harris death video, an 11-minute clip taken from an unidentified officer’s body camera. It shows officers arriving on the scene and a chase ensuing. Officers catch up to Harris quickly and take him to the ground.
“I need you to roll onto your stomach now,” an officer is heard saying, and then a single gunshot rings out.
Harris then yells “You shot me! You shot me!” as officers continue to hold him to the ground, pulling his arms behind his back.
The video grows even more unsettling. Harris is heard crying, “He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh my God. I’m losing my breath.”
“F**k your breath!” a cop responds.
Harris later died of the gunshot wound.
Bates claimed that he meant to deploy his Taser and was heard on the video yelling “Taser” and later apologizing for the shooting.
The officer who shot Eric Harris has been identified as Robert Bates, but police have not released the identity of the officer who yelled “F**k your breath” at the dying Harris.
While the Eric Harris death video itself is sparking outrage, so too is the response from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office. The department held a press conference announcing that an investigation cleared Robert Bates and brought out an independent consultant who claimed that Bates suffered from a phenomena known as “slip and capture,” when the high stress of a situation caused him to unknowingly pull his firearm rather than Taser.
The consultant, Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clark, drew further outrage when he referred to Robert Bates as a “victim” of the circumstances.
“He was a true victim of slips and capture,” Clark said.
But even as the department cleared Bates, the Eric Harris death video has led to a widespread outcry. Many are calling on the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office to bring charges against Robert Bates and to release the identity of the officer who told the dying man “F**k your breath.” So far, the department has done neither.
[Image via YouTube]