Cops: Deputy, 73, Shot Man Dead 'by Mistake'

Family accuses Tulsa insurance exec of being 'pay to play' cop
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2015 1:25 AM CDT
Updated Apr 13, 2015 7:30 AM CDT

(Newser) – Yet another disturbing video of a police shooting has surfaced—this time involving a deputy that the victim's family say should never have been there. Reserve Deputy Bob Bates, a 73-year-old insurance executive, told police he thought he was reaching for his Taser when he shot Eric Harris in Tulsa, Okla., on April 2, the Guardian reports. "I shot him. I'm sorry," the deputy says on the police body-camera video after Harris, 44, is shot. Harris can be heard saying, "He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I'm losing my breath," to which an officer responds: "Fuck your breath." Police say Harris, who died at the hospital less than an hour later, had been seen "reaching for his waistband area" as he fled after selling a gun to an undercover officer, reports the Tulsa World.

"It was me. My attorney has advised me not to comment," Bates tells the World, which notes that he has been a reserve deputy since 2008—and was chairman of the sheriff's re-election campaign, to which he donated $2,500. In a statement, Harris' family calls for an independent investigation and accuses Bates of being a "pay to play" cop. "We do not believe it is reasonable for a 73-year-old insurance executive to be involved in a dangerous undercover sting operation," they say. A police spokesman tells the Los Angeles Times that Bates has also donated equipment, including "a couple cars," to the force, but he "isn't the only millionaire we've got" in the reserve program and it's not true that he "bought his way" into it.

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