In Tulsa, Oklahoma, it's possible to pretend you're a police officer if you donate enough to the police department. And in Tulsa, a wealthy 73-year old insurance executive donated a lot to the police department, and found himself deputized and part of the police department's reserve deputy program.
On Friday, that wealthy insurance executive shot and killed an unarmed black man. By accident, he says. It was a mistake is all. He meant to use the Taser and got the gun out instead.
“He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I’m losing my breath,” Eric Harris says as he struggles on the ground following the April 2 shooting, which flew under the radar until video emerged a week later.
“F--- your breath,” a callous officer can be heard saying. “Shut the f--- up!”
Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, 73, (below) shouted “Taser! Taser!” before pulling the trigger on his gun, firing a round into Harris.
“I shot him!” the former policeman says, dropping his gun. “I’m sorry.”
Bates was assisting other deputies who were trying to take Harris into custody after the felon fled from police during a sting operation, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office’s said.
“You shouldn’t have f-----g ran!” another deputy screams, as Harris is held down by his neck and head.
Blaming the victim is true to form, isn't it?
In video released Friday, Bates can be heard apologizing, saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” as police handcuffed Harris before he was taken to a local hospital where he died from his gunshot wound.
According to Maj. Shannon Clark, Bates is a highly regarded member of the Reserve Deputy Program who was assisting the Sheriff’s Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force when Harris was shot.
Clark stated that Bates is one of many wealthy donors among the agency’s 130 reserve deputies, saying, “There are lots of wealthy people in the reserve program. Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all.”
On Monday, the Sheriff’s Office deferred questions to the county commissioners’ office when asked for a list of items Bates had donated, including his own service weapon and Taser.
Bates, who served as a Tulsa police officer for one year in 1964, is not compensated for his time assisting the sheriff’s deputies, and is classified as an “advanced reserve,” meaning he “can do anything a full-time deputy can do,” explained Clark.
Well, anything except reach for his taser and actually get the taser. Or figure out that the gun in his hand is a lethal weapon. Come to think of it, some full-time deputies can't do that either.
I'm sure Bates feels terrible, but no matter how terrible he feels, he can't unshoot that gun and bring back Eric Harris. For all the training he received, it seems like he might have needed a few more hours in the "how to subdue a suspect without killing him" department.