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Tulsa County paying $6M to estate of slain black man

TULSA, Okla. – An Oklahoma county is paying $6 million to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white former sheriff’s reserve deputy.

The settlement between Tulsa County and the estate of Eric Harris was filed Friday. Harris was shot in April 2015 by ex-volunteer sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates.

Eric Harris was “inadvertently” shot in the back by Tulsa County, Oklahoma, Reserve Deputy Robert Bates after an undercover weapons sting on April 2, 2015. Bates announced he was going to deploy his Taser, but actually shot Harris in the back with a handgun.
Credit: Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office

The 76-year-old Bates was released from prison in October after serving less than half of a four-year sentence for second-degree manslaughter.

Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates

Sheriff Vic Regalado said in a statement he believes the settlement will allow the Harris family to heal.

An attorney for Harris’ family says his legacy brings hope for “some measure of justice and accountability” when a law officer “violates the rights and takes the life of an African-American citizen.”