Robert Bates, 74 years old, was a Tulsa, Oklahoma reserve deputy when he was part of a sting operation. Bates fatally shot unarmed Eric Harris, and said that he mistook his gun for his taser. Eric was restrained when Bates shot him.
On April 2, 2015, a jury found Bates guilty of second-degree manslaughter. The jury recommended the maximum sentence of 4 years in prison. Bates wife has stated that because of his age and health, her husband is likely to die in prison.
(Editorial opinion: The same conditions applied to Bates when he went on the sting operation with a loaded gun. Bates could not distinguish where he carried his gun from where he carried his taser, nor that it was unnecessary to employ a taser upon a physically restrained suspect. He should not have been working in that capacity.)
After sentencing, Bates was escorted to the jail, and is expected to be transferred to a state prison next week.
The shooting was captured on video and lead to investigations about pay to play, questions about training standards for volunteer deputies, and favoritism. A review found an internal memo questioning Bates’ qualifications as a volunteer deputy and showed that Bates, a close friend of the sheriff’s, had donated thousands of dollars in cash, vehicles and equipment to the sheriff’s office.
A grand jury also investigated and indicted the longtime sheriff, Stanley Glanz, in September 2015, accusing him of failing to release a 2009 memo. He resigned on Nov. 1 2015.
Considering the discoveries and reforms, Eric Harris’ death was not in vain.