Robert Bates on Trial For Murdering Eric Harris

Bates and Harris

Bates and Harris

Trial started this week for Robert Bates, the ex-volunteer reserve sheriff deputy for the Tulsa County, Oklahoma’s Sheriff’s office.

On April 2, 2015, an undercover deputy was conducting a sting operation to catch 44-year old Eric Harris illegally selling a gun.  Bates, who is 73-years old, volunteered to help out.  Eric ran, and upon apprehension and taken to the ground, Bates pulled his gun and shot Eric in the back.

Bates’ defense is that he thought he was taking out and discharging his taser and not his .357.  Bates is charged with 2nd degree manslaughter. If convicted, he faces up to 4 years in prison.

The killing of Eric Harris resulted in activists organizing.  The actions of We The People resulted in a grand jury investigation into the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office. The grand jury indicted Sheriff Glanz on 2 misdemeanor charges, including one for denying lawful requests of internal investigations into his office’s Reserve Deputy program.  After almost 30 years as Sheriff,  Stanley Glanz resigned.

At the time of the shooting, Bates was a CEO of an insurance company who volunteered as a sheriff’s deputy.  He gave many gifts to the Sheriff.  An internal inquiry by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office in 2009 found that Bates was shown special treatment and that training policies were violated during his time there.

Sheriff Tulsa

Former Sheriff Glanz

In July 2015, Eric’s estate filed a suit naming Sheriff Stanley Glanz and Robert Bates as defendants.  The lawsuit alleges that the volunteer deputy unnecessarily attempted to use a stun gun on an already restrained suspect, and shot and killed him instead.   They later amended the complaint to add new allegations detailing the “unconstitutional and dangerous reserve deputy program overseen by Sheriff Glanz.

Investigations found that Bates had gifted the Sheriff 3 cars and $25K to his re-election campaign.




Leading Up To Trial

There have been three judges assigned to the case. In December 2015, during a hearing, Judge Sharon Holmes stepped down.  Judge Holmes took over for Judge James Caputo, who stepped down in mid-November after realizing he knew a witness.  Judge Musseman was named the new judge in the case.

The defense requested that the video of Eric Harris’ death be edited.   The video includes a deputy cursing at Eric when Eric said he could not breathe.  The judge denied the defense’s request to edit the video, stating that the jurors need the context by being able to watch the full, unedited video.

Selection of The Jury

There is a jury of 12 and 2 alternatives, consisting of 8 men and 6 women.  All are White.  Two black prospective jurors were eliminated by defense attorneys. News On 6 commented that all of the jurors appear to be over the age of 40.

Opening Arguments

Prosecutor Kevin Gray began by repeating words in the video.  “He’s running, he’s running, he’s running,” the prosecutor quoted the officer in the video, then clapped his hands to make the sound of the gunshot.  “You’re gonna hear this gun was used by Mr. Bates,” the prosecutor said, and held up the gun that is part of the evidence. “You’ll hear him say Taser” but you will never see that Taser leave his vest.

The defense emphasized the dangers of undercover police operations, arguing Harris’ character was “dangerous” and in the situation “everyone was on high alert and filled with stress.” Bates’ attorney frequently called Harris by his nickname “40,” suggesting to the jury Harris could have been a gangster who “made it known he’s a Rollin’ 90’s crip,” Brewster said.

Bates was the only person with a Taser, the defense said. Defense attorney Brewster told the jury that both the Taser and the gun were similar in weight, had the same look and feel and similar laser on them. “When he yelled Taser, Taser, Taser. He mistakenly had his gun instead of his Taser,” Brewster said.

First Witness

The first witness to take the stand on Wednesday was the undercover officer whose hands and voice are on video as he bought the gun from Harris in the undercover sting.  The jury heard from Undercover Deputy Lance Ramsey.  He spoke about Robert Bates’ role in the operation, saying the reserve deputy wasn’t originally in the plan to help out. Ramsey says Bates called him the night before the April 2nd sting, volunteering to show up.  He also talked about Bates’ position in the operation saying he was only supposed to be back up.

Keeping Updated On The Trial

The trial is not live streamed and the media is not allowed to have cameras in the courtroom.  In fact, Tulsa World reports via video that Eric’s brother, Andre Harris, was denied entry into the courtroom.  As Andre is being interviewed, a deputy steps up and instructs Andre to stand back behind a certain line.

On Twitter, @meresnik is following the trial.

As the trial continues, we’ll post available videos of each day’s hearing in the comment section.  If you want to follow our updates of this trial, you can find the link to this post in the right-side border under “Recent Posts”, or on the top menu under “Cases.”

Opening Statements


The efforts of We The People activists in Tulsa led to the Sheriff being indicted.


Bates was not properly trained.


The Young Turks Report



Posted on 04/21/2016, in Cases, Cops Gone Wild, Eric Harris, Trial Videos and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 37 Comments.

  1. “The defense requested that the video of Eric Harris’ death be edited. The video includes a deputy cursing at Eric when Eric said he could not breathe. The judge denied the defense’s request to edit the video, stating that the jurors need the context by being able to watch the full, unedited video.”

    I wish so much that he would be convicted.

  2. When asked, the Defense told media Calling Eric “40” is showing him ‘respect by calling him what he called himself’??!!
    Wow. Just wow. Why wouldn’t the state object to this type of stuff? Unless they’re quoting someone or Eric himself, I can’t even see why a lawyer could even try that! Its obviously meant to demean the victim.

    From the disrespectful manor the victim is being treated, in front of the all white jury they were able sit in a racially diverse city & the way the sheriffs dept is deliberately obstructing the victim’s family& media access to trial, the racism & corruption is blatant& unabated.
    Victim’s brother said it: If they really cared about me or my brother, they would’ve made sure I was in the courtroom.
    If the damn victims family isn’t allowed at trial who the hell is??? The sherrifs working in that courthouse should actually be assisting the victim’s family! That’s their JOB!!!
    Omg I can’t even believe this!!

    • Since the destruction of Black Wallstreet in Tulsa, I thought that city might have come to its senses. Apparently, I’m wrong.

      A question of whether Eric was on drugs at the time of his murder came up at trial today. The witness reported what she heard the paramedics say that Eric said. I’m not a lawyer, but that type of answer clearly appears to be hearsay and the prosecution should have objected.

      Bates’ legal team is trying to have him acquitted based on painting Eric as a human being who didn’t deserve to live.

  3. yahtzeebutterfly

  4. yahtzeebutterfly

  5. yahtzeebutterfly
    Excerpt from above linked article today by Arianna Pickard of the Tulsa World:

    “Deputy Ricardo Vaca testified on Thursday morning that he saw the then-73-year-old reserve deputy “kind of dozing off in his car” while the task force was staged for takedown of Eric Harris.

    “Vaca, the deputy who tackled Harris and was wearing the eyeglass camera that captured the shooting, said on the witness stand that he and his partner saw Robert Bates’ head droop and eyes close before Bates would rouse himself in his unmarked Tahoe.

    He testified about the pursuit when Harris tried to flee following the undercover gun buy, with Vaca saying that he never drew his weapon because he never saw the fleeing Harris with anything in his hands.

    Vaca said that when he took down Harris, he had him in a “seat belt” sort of hold with his arms and legs on ground. Vaca said he never felt or saw a weapon.”

  6. A video recap of Thursday’s trial.

  7. yahtzeebutterfly

    Well, in the following linked article you can discover the excuse that the jury heard yesterday:

    “Tulsa County deputy testifies about why he told dying Eric Harris to ‘f— your breath’ “

    • yahtzeebutterfly

    • Byars’ assumptions were very prejudicial. Without bothering to check anything, he concluded that his assumptions of what Bates had done and the weapon used were correct and that Eric was complaining about nothing.

  8. yahtzeebutterfly

    • yahtzeebutterfly

  9. yahtzeebutterfly

  10. “Deputy Vaca testified Thursday that he was holding Harris down when the shot was fired. He says he gets emotional thinking about the operation because had the bullet gone a little to the right he might be dead.”

    Will the jury decide that even if Bates thought he was using a taser, that there was absolutely no reason for him to get involved and use any sort of weapon? I think that is what the prosecution is going for — to prove that Bates had no reason to involve himself.

  11. yahtzeebutterfly

    “Trial highlights: Robert Bates’ manslaughter case producing revelations each day of high-stakes testimony”

  12. yahtzeebutterfly

    Meanwhile from a Tulsa World article linked below:

    The revised reserve deputy program will trickle back online as individual deputies satisfy strengthened requirements designed to stamp out the kind of special treatment and task force assignments afforded to Robert Bates under the prior regime, according to Sheriff Vic Regaled.

    Among prominent changes, Regalado said reserves no longer will be allowed to patrol on their own (only when paired with certified deputies), nor be assigned to special operations or task forces. There also won’t be a tiered system — basic, intermediate and advanced — because all reserves now must fulfill the same requirements to volunteer, he said.

    Tulsa County’s recently elected sheriff outlined to the Tulsa World his reforms of the embattled program and how he plans to relaunch. When Regalado was sworn in April 11, he expressed hope to have the reserve program revived within 30 days. That still remains the goal, he said, but only without “cutting corners” on reforms.

  13. yahtzeebutterfly

    • The state emphasized the Taser must have a switch flipped first before it’s activated, meanwhile the revolve you only have to pull trigger


  14. yahtzeebutterfly

    • yahtzeebutterfly

  15. yahtzeebutterfly

  16. So defense only called one witness? What’s up with the ol gun switcheroo??

  17. Bates reminds me of Zimmerman as a wannabe cop and a lying killer.

    In an NBC interview, he told Matt Lauer he was parked several blocks away and claims Harris “came to me”, when in fact, this lying pos burned the road up to catch Harris 100′ or so from the parking lot where the sting went down.

    Take a look at the dash cam footage and see who really came to who.

  18. yahtzeebutterfly

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  21. yahtzeebutterfly

    • 3 hours of deliberation! The jury has earned my respect. They listened to evidence at trial and IMHO, made the right decision. Let’s hope that the judge takes their recommendation on sentencing.

      I’ve not yet read when sentencing is scheduled.

    • Just found on the NY Daily News that sentencing is scheduled for May 31st.

  22. Report on verdict.

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