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Volunteer cop who killed Eric Harris charged with manslaughter

Robert Bates, charged with the manslaughter of Eric Harris

Talking Points Memo

Bob Bates reportedly confused his gun for a Taser.

The reserve deputy police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man in Oklahoma has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Bob Bates, 73, owns an insurance company and was on his regular volunteer duty with the Tulsa County Police’s Violent Crimes Task Force when he shot 44-year-old Eric Harris, according to Tulsa World.

According to a police release, Bates pulled out what he thought was a Taser to shoot Harris but shot him with a pistol instead. Officers in the department have defended the mistake. Department spokesperson Sgt. Jim Clark has referred to it as an incident of “slip and capture,” meaning he made a mistake in a highly stressful situation. Sheriff Stanley Glanz compared the incident on Monday to a surgical mistake.

“How many errors are made in an operating room every week?” he asked.

Bates served as chair of Glanz’s 2012 reelection committee and personally donated $2,500 to it.

“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,’” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler announced in a press release.

A police camera recorded Harris’s capture, and the video went viral. When Harris complains he’s unable to breathe, one officer responds “fuck your breath.” Harris died about an hour after reaching a hospital.

Photo via Talking Points Memo | Remix by Jason Reed

Kevin Collier

Kevin Collier

A former senior politics reporter for the Daily Dot, Kevin Collier focuses on privacy, cybersecurity, and issues of importance to the open internet. Since leaving the Daily Dot in March 2016, he has served as a reporter for Vocativ and a cybersecurity correspondent for BuzzFeed.