Reserve Deputy ‘paid to play cop, charged with manslaughter for shooting, killing unarmed black man

The family of a man shot dead by a millionaire 73-year-old reserve deputy during a botched undercover sting operation have accused him of paying to be allowed to ‘play cop’.

Robert Charles Bates, an insurance executive, killed unarmed Eric Courtney Harris, 44, on April 2, after officers struggled to detain him.

Police in Tulsa have said that Bates thought he was holding his stun gun not his handgun when he fired and in police bodycam video Bates can be heard exclaiming, ‘I shot him! I’m sorry’ when he realized what he had done.

It said: ‘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.’

Tulsa police spokesman Maj. Shannon Clark admitted to the Los Angeles Times that Bates had bought ‘a couple of cars’ and his attorney has admitted to The Daily Beast that he bought surveillance equipment for the sheriff’s office.

But Clark denied that this was tantamount to buying time on duty.

He added that reserve deputies often make donations to the sheriff’s office, as ‘their way of giving back’.

However, former officers told The Daily Beast that Bates was indeed a ‘pay to play policeman’.

One said: ‘Bob Bates came on board because he had all this money.’

The former reserve deputy revealed that he took various senior officers ‘on cruises in the Bahamas and in Mexico all the time’.

He added: ‘The sheriff just gave him free rein because he was treating him right. He bought his way into this position.’

Another officer, Sheriff Stanley Glanz, told the website that he sometimes went fishing with Bates.

Bates was charged with second-degree manslaughter on Monday for the fatal shooting.

The Tulsa County District Attorney’s office issued a statement confirming the charges.

‘Mr. Bates is charged with Second-Degree Manslaughter involving culpable negligence. 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,’ District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in the press release.

On Sunday, footage was released by police which shows deputies and undercover police chasing after Harris, first by car then on foot on the afternoon of April 2, after he fled a sting operation from a nearby parking lot.

Once they catch up to Harris, they tackle him to the ground and order him to lie on his stomach. Robert Bates then yells, ‘Taser! Taser!’ – but takes out his service weapon and pulls the trigger.

After firing one round into Harris, the former full-time officer drops his gun from the recoil and says in shock: ‘Oh, I shot him! I’m sorry.’ Harris then starts yelping on the ground, while pleading for help.

The fatally-wounded man, who is being held down by his neck by the deputies, exclaims: ‘Oh my god, he shot me! He shot me! He shot me, man.’ He then adds: ‘Oh, my god. I’m losing my breath.’

Shockingly, one of the deputies replies: ‘F*** your breath.’ Another calls Harris, who is black and dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, a ‘motherf***er’ and tells him: ‘You shouldn’t have f***ing ran.’

Following the incident, during which the deputies do not appear to realize Harris has been fatally injured and even tell him to ‘shut the f*** up’, the suspect was hospitalized. He died an hour later.

The footage, obtained by NewsOn6, comes as a number of US shootings involving police officers and black suspects have hit the headlines. Many of the suspects were unarmed at the time.

In the April 2 incident, Bates accidentally fired his gun thinking that he had pulled out his Taser – as proved by the fact he did not expect the weapon to recoil, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office said.

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