Robert Bates, the 73-year-old Tulsa “reserve deputy” who fatally shot suspect Eric Harris with his gun when he claims he intended to grab his Taser, has officially been charged with manslaughter, ABC News is reporting.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Bates fatally shot suspect Eric Harris on April 2 after an undercover gun deal went wrong. As Harris attempted to flee, other deputies on the scene attempted to subdue the man. Bates then fired a fatal shot into the man.
“Oh, I shot him. I’m sorry.”
Bates has claimed that he accidentally grabbed his service weapon when he intended to grab his Taser, a claim that the Tulsa Police Department has accepted at face value. Sgt. Jim Clark of the Tulsa Police Department, according to KTLA (Los Angeles), has described Bates as a “victim” of a “slip and capture”: that is, a mistake made in high-stress situations where “you intend to do one thing and instead do something else.”
Further complicating matters is the fact that Bates is not an official member of the Tulsa Police Department. The wealthy businessman, who has donated vehicles and weapons to the department, is one of several wealthy donors who have been given the title of “reserve deputy.” Raw Story writer Tom Boggioni describes the arrangement as “paying to play cop.”
On Monday, District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler officially charged Bates with manslaughter involving culpable negligence, according to KOTV (Tulsa). In a statement, he describes what is meant by that specific charge.
“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.’ “
As of this post, Harris’ family has not commented publicly on the manslaughter charges against Bates. However, the family released a statement this weekend after viewing video of the incident that claimed Harris’ life.
“This video shows a portion of the events which led to the untimely death of our loved one, Eric Harris. We have also heard TCSO’s version of the incident and the findings from its internal investigation. We are saddened, shocked, confused and disturbed.”
Do you believe that manslaughter charges are justified against Robert Bates for shooting Eric Harris? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
[Images courtesy of: Fox News,Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office via KTLA]