Apr 12, 2015 9:23 PM
Police video shows killing of black Oklahoma suspect
The Associated Press
TULSA, Okla. (AP) Authorities have released video showing the fatal encounter of a black suspect with a white reserve sheriff's deputy who police said thought he was holding a stun gun instead of his handgun when he shot the man during a recent arrest in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The video of the April 2 incident shows a Tulsa County deputy chase and tackle Eric Harris, 44, whom they accuse of trying to sell an illegal gun to an undercover officer.
A deputy is heard telling Harris, "I need you to roll on your stomach." At about the same time, a woman is heard in the background saying, "Stop fighting."
While the deputy is subduing Harris on the ground, a gunshot rings out and a man says, "Oh, I shot him. I'm sorry."
Authorities have identified the shooter as 73-year-old reserve deputy Robert Bates and said that he meant to use his stun gun.
Harris screams, "He shot me. Oh, my God," and a deputy replies: "You f---ing ran. Shut the f--- up."
Harris then says he's losing his breath. A deputy replies, "F--- your breath."
Harris was treated by medics at the scene and eventually died in a Tulsa hospital.
The video was released over the weekend after Harris' family requested that it be made public. It was recorded by deputies with sunglass cameras, Tulsa County Sheriff's Office officials said. They said Bates believed he was holding a Taser and intended to incapacitate Harris when the fatal shot was fired.
An investigator who reviewed details of the shooting concluded that the deputy suffered a phenomenon known as "slips and capture."
Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clark, who was asked to investigate the shooting by the sheriff's office, has said Bates was a victim of a high stress phenomenon in which a person's behavior "slips" off the intended course of action because it's "captured" by a stronger response.
Results of the investigation were turned over to prosecutors, who will decide whether to file criminal charges.
An attorney for the family, Dan Smolen, did not immediately return a telephone call Sunday seeking comment. The family has not commented publicly since the video's release.
Reserve deputies are generally volunteers, often with other full-time jobs. Bates is an insurance company executive assigned to the Violent Crimes Task Force.
The sheriff's office told the Tulsa World that it has more than 100 reserve deputies, who the "have full powers and authority" of a deputy while on duty, and that it's not unusual for them to be on an assignment with units such as the Violent Crimes Task Force.