A 73-year-old Tulsa, Oklahoma reserve deputy who killed a man earlier this month when he fired a gun instead of a Taser was the subject of an investigation over questions about his training and conduct, CBS News has learned.
Robert Bates has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter charges in the death of Eric Harris, saying he shot and killed Harris by mistake on April 2 when he inserted himself into a weapons investigation.
Since then, various reports have emerged that call his law enforcement training into question and even allege that the Tulsa Sheriff’s Office forged his training records.
Now, CBS News has learned that in 2009, the Tulsa Sheriff’s Office launched an internal investigation to find out if Bates received special treatment during training and while working as a reserve deputy. Officials also investigated whether supervisors pressured training officers on Bates’ behalf, the report says.
CBS News reports:
The investigation concluded Bates’ training was questionable and that he was given preferential treatment.
The investigation found that deputies voiced concerns about Bates’ behavior in the field, almost from the very beginning. Bates reportedly used his personal car while on duty and made unauthorized vehicle stops. When confronted Bates said that he could do what he wanted, and that anyone who had a problem with him should go see the sheriff.
The investigation concluded that high-ranking officers created an atmosphere where employees were intimidated in order to violate department policy.
The attorney for Harris’ family, Dan Smolen, says if the findings had been taken seriously in 2009, Harris might still be alive.
The incident occurred when, according to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, Bates was assisting other deputies who were trying to take Harris into custody after he ran during a sting operation. Bates reportedly pulled out a gun instead of a Taser, killing Harris.
We hope his family members get the justice they deserve.
SOURCE: CBS NEWS | VIDEO SOURCE: NDN