Former Oklahoma deputy who fatally shot unarmed suspect after mistaking gun for Taser released from prison early

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

TULSA, Okla. – A former Oklahoma deputy who was sentenced to serve four years in prison for fatally shooting an unarmed suspect was released from prison early.

Robert Bates, now 76, was a reserve officer with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office when he killed Eric Harris, 44, on April 2, 2015.

Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates

An undercover officer tried to purchase an illegal weapon in a sting operation, but Harris bolted and was tackled by other officers and taken to the ground.

Bates, who was providing backup, shot Harris in the back with his pistol but said he meant to use his Taser stun gun.

“Oh! I shot him! I’m sorry!” Bates said, as captured in a video of the shooting.

On April 27, 2016, a jury found him guilty of second-degree manslaughter. He was sentenced to serve four years in prison.

Now, after serving 1 and 1/2 years of his sentence, Bates is free from prison.

According to the Tulsa World, the former reserve deputy gained early release after earning enough credits to cut 2 and 1/2 years off his four-year sentence for manslaughter.

According to the Department of Corrections, offenders incarcerated in state custody can accumulate credits toward an early release through good behavior and participation in certain programs.

He will be under post-imprisonment supervision for the next nine months.

Robert Bates, Oklahoma Department of Corrections


Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.