Apr 24, 2015 5:08 PM
Attorneys: Memo shows special treatment for reserve deputy
The Associated Press
TULSA, Okla. (AP) Several members of an Oklahoma sheriff's department raised serious concerns years ago about the performance and training of a volunteer deputy in the department now charged in the fatal shooting of a restrained suspect, according to a report released Friday that attorneys for the dead man's family said outlines a 2009 internal investigation.
The lawyers released the sheriff's office memo outlining an investigation into Robert Bates, 73, who says he mistakenly shot Eric Harris on April 2 after confusing his handgun for his stun gun. Bates has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter.
The 2009 report says Bates, who had joined the sheriff's office less than a year earlier, had argued with a dispatcher, improperly used a personal vehicle on the job and appeared to have inadequate training for a role as an advanced reserve deputy.
The report concludes Bates didn't receive special treatment for admittance into the program because no one fully met internal standards at that time. It did, however, find that Bates a longtime friend of the sheriff received special treatment once admitted that included department leaders ignoring complaints about his performance.
Tulsa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Maj. Shannon Clark said he could not confirm the details of the report and that he doesn't know why the office didn't keep its own record of it. He questioned the authenticity of the document released by the Harris family lawyer and said an attorney for the sheriff's office was preparing a statement.
Separately Friday, local prosecutors issued a statement saying it may be time for an outside agency to investigate the entire operation under Sheriff Stanley Glanz, who has been in office since 1989.
"I am highly concerned about recent allegations that have surfaced and I have been in contact with independent law enforcement agencies regarding further investigation into these matters," District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said.
Kunzweiler spokeswoman Susan Witt said the district attorney has not formally called for an investigation and would not release the names of agencies he's contacted.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said it is not conducting its own probe and the local FBI office did not return a call for comment. The Department of Justice's local office would not say whether was looking into how Glanz ran his department.
The 2009 document quotes reserve deputies supervisor Sgt. Randy Chapman as saying that two of Bates' peers complained that his field operations "were a little scary." Chapman told an investigator he wasn't notified when Bates entered the program and that he was reassigned to another division after raising concerns about Bates' performance to supervisors, according to the report.
The report's cover letter says it was prepared by Sgt. Rob Lillard at the request of then-Undersheriff Brian Edwards, who no longer works for the office.
Edwards told The Associated Press on Friday that he doesn't remember why he ordered the review of Bates and referred questions about its findings to the sheriff's office.
"I don't remember the ins and outs of what I had done in 2009," Edwards said. "Believe me, I have been trying. I hate not being able to remember."