After a viral video spread across the net showing the shooting death of Tulsa Oklahoma resident Eric Harris at the hands of the police sparked more outrage over police brutality and what seems to be the targeting of Black men.
The 73-year-old volunteer deputy involved with the shooting has been charged with manslaughter in the death for mistakenly drawing his gun when he meant to pull his taser.
The charge against Robert C. Bates—named the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office “Deputy of the Year” just three years ago—was announced in a statement today by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office:
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.”
At a press conference on Friday, police released footage of the deadly shooting, which an officer characterized as “an inadvertent mistake.” In the video, Bates can be heard shouting “Taser!” before a single gunshot rings out. “I shot him,” Bates then says, “I’m sorry.”
What many people heard was an officer telling Harris “fuck your breath” when he said that he could not breathe.
According to the Tulsa World, Bates is an insurance company executive who has donated thousands of dollars in equipment to the Sheriff’s Office since being made a reserve deputy in 2008, including “multiple vehicles, guns and stun guns.”
“There are lots of wealthy people in the reserve program,” a Sheriff’s Office spokesperson told the paper. “Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all.”
Tulsa police say Bates previously worked in law enforcement for one year, from 1964 to 1965.