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Reserve deputy who shot Eric Harris canceled trip to Bahamas

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Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a man during an arrest attempt, turned himself in Tuesday to authorities at the Tulsa County Jail. Credit: CNN

TULSA — The Tulsa reserve deputy who shot and killed Eric Harris never took his planned trip to the Bahamas.

73-year-old insurance executive Robert Bates had his attorney, Clark Brewster, notify the judge of the expected vacation during his arraignment on April 21.

On Tuesday, Brewster said Bates instead spent a couple of days at his Florida home.

According to the Tulsa World, Brewster said his client didn’t want to let his family down, but changed his mind because he is “emotionally distraught” over the fatal shooting and didn’t feel he could be “fully there in mind or spirit.”

Bates is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the April 2 shooting death of Eric Harris, who was the target of an undercover gun sting by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

It wasn’t mandatory that he tell the court of his vacation plans, his attorney said, but he said Bates wanted to be “transparent and open to the court.”

“When there was such a public outcry and misinterpretation of his intentions to go on that trip, that played a part in his decision-making, as well as the idea he’s facing serious legal issues that he wants to be available to respond to,” Brewster told the Tulsa World.

After the planned trip to the Bahamas was made known in court, the Harris family issued a statement questioning Bates’ choice to take the trip.

“Whether intended or not, Mr. Bates’ vacationing in the Bahamas at this time sends a message of apathy with respect to the shooting and Eric’s life,” according to the statement, which was released by the family’s attorneys. “At a time when we are still mourning the death of a loved one that he shot down in the street, Mr. Bates will be relaxing and enjoying his wealth and privilege.”

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for July 2.

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