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Deputy Sheriff Robert Bates Surrenders After Manslaughter Charge in Death of Eric Harris

A Oklahoma reserve deputy sheriff surrendered to authorities Tuesday following a manslaughter charge in the shooting death of an unarmed black man.
/ Source: NBC News

A Tulsa reserve sheriff's deputy surrendered to authorities Tuesday morning following a second-degree manslaughter charge in the shooting death of an unarmed black man.

Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, 73, was charged with second-degree manslaughter on Monday in the death or Eric Harris —who was shot and killed during a dramatic arrest April 2. Bates has said he did not intend to shoot Harris and thought he was using a Taser on him instead of a gun.

Bates, an insurance agent who served as a reserve deputy since 2008, was booked into a county jail Tuesday morning on the manslaughter charge and released after posting bond.

The reserve deputy shot and killed Harris during a sting operation in which Harris allegedly tried to sell a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol to an undercover member of the Tulsa County Violent Crimes Task Force. Harris bolts from a car before he can be arrested and officers chase after him.

"Taser! Taser!" Bates is heard shouting in the video, before firing a single round from his gun, hitting Harris, who was pinned to the ground by officers.

He quickly realizes his mistake saying, "I shot him!! I’m sorry!" Harris was taken to the hospital where he later died.

Mugshot of Robert C. Bates. Police have charged him with second degree manslaughter.Tulsa County Sheriffs Department

Harris’ family said Monday they believe he was treated inhumanely after the shooting. Video of the incident showed Harris writhing on the ground after he was shot and saying he was having trouble breathing. An unidentified officer is heard responding, "F--k your breath."

Harris’ family called the response "appalling," in a statement released on Monday, adding "No human being deserves to be treated with such contempt."

The Tulsa County Sheriff's Office defended Bates last week, saying "he did not commit a crime" and officers chasing Harris had good reason to believe he could have been armed.

Bates was not originally supposed to be on the arrest team that day, but was "thrust in to the situation," authorities added.

The incident was investigated independently by Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clarke and later turned over to Tulsa County District Attorney Stephen Kunzweiler, who announced the second-degree manslaughter charges Monday afternoon.


— Daniella Silva