accidentally shot an unarmed man when he thought he was using his Taser instead of his gun.
The incident, involving 73-year-old Bob Bates, was caught on video as he shot a 44-year-old suspect, Eric Courtney Harris, who had just been tackled by another police officer. Harris had six criminal felony cases and a misdemeanor case filed against him, and at the time of his death, he was suspected of distributing crystal methamphetamine in Tulsa.
Despite medical care, Harris died in the hospital while receiving treatment for his wounds.
The video clearly shows Harris running from the police, as well as an active-duty police officer catching him and tackling him. There’s a gunshot, and Harris cries, “He shot me,” repeatedly. The camera swings toward one officer, who’s returning something to the holster on his leg, and then toward another officer, who picks up a firearm from the ground.
Bates admitted that he was the one who shot Harris, but he said that he used his gun instead of his Taser “by mistake.”
What is a “Reserve Police Officer?”
A reserve police officer has police authority, but he or she doesn’t report to work every day. They participate in routine training and ride-alongs with active-duty police, but Bates’ circumstances were a bit different.
He donated equipment to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, and he was close friends with Sheriff Stanley Glanz. He wasn’t a paid member of the reserves.
Bates is the CEO of an insurance company, and people are raising questions about whether he was actually qualified to be policing the streets at all – let alone on that fateful day as part of a Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office sting operation.
What Do You Think?
Is Bates too old to have been playing “cops and robbers,” and did his age have anything to do with his alleged confusion between his Taser and his live firearm? Should reserve officers – particularly those who aren’t paid or officially trained as police – be out on the streets performing police duties?
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