Tulsa reserve deputy Robert Bates, who mistakenly shot a suspect when he was trying to tase him joined NBC's The Today Show to defend himself so he can stay out of jail.
“First and foremost, let me apologize to the family of Eric Harris,” Tulsa reserve deputy Robert Bates said of the 44-year-old black man he fatally wounded. “This is the second-worst thing that’s ever happened to me or the first that ever happened to me in my life. I had cancer a number of years ago. I didn’t think I was going to get there… I’d rate this as number one on my list of things in my life that I regret.”
Asked by Matt Lauer how he could make the fundamental mistake of grabbing his gun instead of the taser, Bates replied, “This has happened a number of times around the country. I have read about it in the past. I thought to myself after reading several cases, I don’t understand how this can happen.”
He added: “You must believe me, it can happen to anyone.”
How does a 73 year old man end up being part of a drug raid at all? Most federal agencies put the retirement age at 57. And that's for real officers of the law. Was it all those donations he made to the police department?
What was Bates, an insurance company CEO, doing there in the first place?
It certainly looks like Bates was given special access to "real" policing. Harris had given $2,500 to Sheriff Stanley Glanz's re-election campaign. He donated cars to the department. He gave equipment. So it would be noteworthy if Bates ends up being convicted based on evidenceprovided by "sunglass cameras" that he may have purchased for the department.
He was too old to be policing the streets. Tulsa police said that Bates had served a year in 1964 as a police officer. Most police departments have mandatory retirement ages. Federal law-enforcement officers, for instance, retire at 57.
When Lauer questioned him about his special relationship with the Tulsa police, he got very agitated.
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Lauer took the opportunity to grill Bates on several stories that have come out about his relationship with the Tulsa police: Allegations that he was allowed to “play cop” because of his financial support of the sheriff’s deputy; and claims that the sheriff’s department falsified Bates’ training records to give him unearned credit for firearm certification.
Of the former, Bates said, “That is unbelievably unfair. I have donated equipment as I saw fit.” He added that his main motivation has been to assist the department in fighting a local drug problem.
Why is questioning his patronage to the Tulsa police unfair? That seems like a touchy subject for him.
Seeing the video makes it pretty clear that he shot and killed the man by mistake, but killing a person is still a crime and he should be punished.