Former US cop, 73, negligently killed man

World Today


US prosecutors filed a second-degree manslaughter charge against 73 year old white Oklahoma reserve officer Robert Bates Monday. A charge that is “involving culpable negligence”, for shooting and killing Eric Harris, a 44 year old black man. Harris can be seen in the police video on April 2nd, allegedly trying to sell an illegal gun to an undercover police officer in Tulsa, a city in the US state of Oklahoma. The video was released by the Tulsa Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department after the charges against reserve officer Bates were filed.

Tulsa Sheriff’s Office (video screen shot)

The video begins by showing Eric Harris get into the vehicle of an undercover Tulsa police officer, and he hands over the gun he’s allegedly trying to illegally sell.

Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

As the video continues, Harris jumps out of the car and is later tackled by officers where he is shot

Tulsa Sheriff’s Department/Reuters (video screen shot)

Reserve officer Robert Bates is heard on the video saying he is sorry for shooting Eric Harris

In the moments after the gun was fired, voices on the video can be heard saying:

Reserve Deputy Robert Bates: “Oh. I shot him, I’m sorry.”

Eric Harris: “He shot me. He shot me. I didn’t do nothing, he shot me.”

Unidentified voice: “You fucking ran.”

Eric Harris: “I’m losing my breath.”

Unidentified voice: “Fuck your breath.”

Full video released by the Tulsa Sheriff’s Department. Warning: Disturbing images and profanity, the audio and video is off-sync.

Eric Harris’ family reportedly requested that video of the events be released by the Sheriff’s Office.

Officers in the sting-style operation had cameras on the dashboard of the vehicle in which Eric Harris entered during the time he was allegedly selling an illegal weapon. Officers were also wearing video camera glasses which recorded the moments when reserve officer Bates allegedly mistook his tazer stun gun for his loaded pistol and shot Eric Harris. Officers can be heard yelling “Tazer! Tazer!”, seeming to indicate a request for someone to use a stun-gun on Eric Harris as he is down on the ground. Moments later a gun shot can be heard and someone, reportedly reserve officer Robert Bates, is heard on the video saying “Oh, I shot him, I’m sorry.”

In the moments before Eric Harris was tackled to the ground, he can be seen in the video here starting to put his hands to his side as he stops running, keeping his back turned to the pursuing officer.

Tulsa Sheriff's Office

Tulsa Sheriff’s Office

It is hard to make out in the video if Harris is in fact struggling against the group of arresting officers moments later, indicating that further force such as a tazer stun gun or a live round firearm would be needed to subdue him in order to make the arrest, or indicating that officers were in danger. One officer can be seen in the video with his knee pressing Harris’ face into the paved street.

“Initial reports have determined that the reserve deputy was attempting to use less lethal force, believing he was utilizing a Taser, when he inadvertently discharged his service weapon, firing one round which struck Harris,” police said.

The sheriff’s office said Harris continued to struggle after the gun was fired, and might have been under the influence of drugs. There is no known autopsy evidence to back up that claim by police. He was described as a felon and had been under investigation for narcotic sales.

Sources for this report include the Associated Press and Reuters