Tulsa reserve deputy Robert Bates accidentally shot an unarmed suspect, Eric Harris, after mistaking his handgun for a taser. However, it appears that the reserve deputy may not have had the training necessary to be involved in a sting operation and that many of his records were falsified.
The Tulsa World reports that the 73-year-old Bates is being charged with manslaughter following the accidental shooting of the unarmed suspect. An internal investigation into the highly criticized reserve deputy program is being completed due to the nature of the incident. The family of Eric Harris noted that Bates should have never been allowed to participate in an undercover sting operation as a reserve deputy and that the man had paid the sheriff’s department to “play cop.” The allegations come as it was discovered that Bates was a millionaire who gave hefty donations to the sheriff’s department including vehicles, equipment and even cruises for the sheriff and higher ups in the department.
Eric Harris’ family notes that Bates should have never been allowed to take part in the sting that ended in Eric’s death and that the fatal accident could have been avoided with proper protocol in place for the reserve deputy program.
“We do not believe that it is reasonable for a man who claims to have all the necessary training to mistake a pistol for a Taser. We do not believe it is reasonable for a 73-year-old insurance executive to be involved in a dangerous undercover sting operation. We do not believe it is reasonable – or responsible – for [the sheriff’s office] to accept gifts from a wealthy citizen who wants to be [a] ‘pay to play’ cop.”
In addition to the allegations that Bates had paid to “play cop,” a special report by the Tulsa World indicates that supervisors had been made to falsify training records for the reserve deputy. Supervisors at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office told the World that they were “ordered to falsify a reserve deputy’s training records”. The supervisors say that they were told to give him credit for field training he did not complete and that he was given credit for firearms certifications he should have never received. Three supervisors claim that they were transferred to other department for refusing to sign the millionaire deputies training records.
Earlier this week, Sheriff Stanley Glanz claimed that Bates had been certified to use three weapons, including a revolver he fired at Harris. However, the Sheriff has been unable to find the certification papers. Therefore, he says he is investigating whether or not Bates had the proper certifications to be wielding the weapon.
“We can’t find the records that she supposedly turned in. So we are going to talk to her to find out if for sure he’s been qualified with those (weapons).”
Undersheriff Tim Albin defends Bates training records saying he has no knowledge of anyone being transferred for refusing to sign the documents. He also says the record “speaks for itself.”
“The training record speaks for itself. I have absolutely no knowledge of what you are talking about. There aren’t any secrets in law enforcement. Zero. Those types of issues would have come up.”
Do you think the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office should be required to show proof of reserve deputy Robert Bates’ training records, including which supervisors signed off on the training?