Family Of Man Killed By Reserve Deputy Calls Shooting 'Evil'

Monday, April 13th 2015, 6:27 pm
By: News On 6

The deputy who said he shot a man when he meant to just tase him, now faces a 2nd degree manslaughter charge.

On April 2nd, 73-year-old Tulsa County Reserve Deputy, Bob Bates, pulled his gun, instead of his Taser, following an undercover gun deal and shot and killed Eric Harris.

Bates' attorney said Bates will turn himself into deputies Tuesday morning.

The sheriff's office isn't saying anything now that Bates is charged, but Harris's family is, and they still don't believe it is justice.

The family said after Bates shot Harris other deputies on scene treated his life as if it had no value. They called the shooting malicious and inhumane.

Andre Harris said, "Boom! Gun you down. And he's hollering out for help and there's no aid. You see the blood running out his side."

The part the Harris family is most disturbed with is after the undercover gun deal, at the end of the shooting.

Andre called his brother peaceful and loving, but Tulsa County Sheriff's deputies knew him as an ex-con in an illegal gun bust moments before the shooting.

Eric got suspicious of the undercover deputy sitting next to him and took off. After a quick chase and takedown, Bates said he reached for his Taser, but grabbed his gun instead, shot, and then apologized.

"Oh, I shot him. I'm sorry," you can hear Bates say in the video.

Deputies said they were holding Harris down, unaware he'd been shot.

In the video released by the TCSO, you can hear Harris tell deputies, "You shot me. I can't breathe."

A deputy, who is not Bates, responds, saying "F*** your breath."

Deputies asked us to remember that it was a high-stress situation, and they were dealing with an ex-con suspected of selling illegal guns.

The Harris family said they don't understand how Bates could confuse a gun for a Taser.

When the attorney for the Harris family, Don Smolen, compared the Taser to a gun, he said, "There's no way an officer can get this confused for this."

Bates' attorney, Clark Brewster, said it was a tragic mistake.

“What is clear, that I don't think is really up for debate at all is that Mr. Bates made a mistake. It was a regrettable mistake, he immediately expressed ‘Oh, I'm sorry I shot him.' He made a mistake, he was trying to activate his Taser when he had his gun in his hand by mistake.”

Andre said he doesn't want people to confuse what happened. He thinks race had nothing to do with the shooting, but instead believes the sheriff's office is corrupt.

"My brother is now in Heaven with the Lord because of these violent men," he said.

Andre spoke with deputies the day after the shooting and said deputies told him they'd make it right.

The Harris family still wants more transparency from the sheriff's office.

"We come to expose it. We come to pull a mask off the evil. We come to shine a light on the darkness," Andre said.

Andre Harris's attorney posted videos he says shows two members of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office meeting with Andre the day after Eric was killed.

Watch the videos posted by Dan Smolen.

That process may start when Bates turns himself in.

4/13/2015 Related Story: Reserve Deputy Charged With Manslaughter In Eric Harris Death

The reason Andre said the sheriff's office is corrupt is because Bates has made some generous donations to the department.

Records show he donated six cars and several other items to the department between 2009 and 2012. Andre believes that's why the 73-year-old was allowed to be a reserve deputy.

The sheriff's office denies that, backing it up with records of Bates' 276 hours of training.

Bates' attorney, Clark Brewster, said he doesn't believe the charge against Bates should have been filed.

“It was an excusable homicide, in my opinion, and the circumstances were not intentional, it was an accident.”

When it comes to the donations Bates made to the department, Brewster said he doesn't think they should be taken into consideration.

“The fact that he's been benevolent toward the sheriff's department,” Brewster said, “…that's not to be criticized or belittled or held up to ridicule.”

Brewster said Bates was a former Tulsa Police officer with hundreds of hours of training. He said Bates is probably one of the most trained reserved deputies in the program.

We have tried to get in touch with the sheriff's public information officer for response, but have not heard back.