Tulsa reserve deputy pleads not guilty to manslaughter

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Robert Bates

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TULSA, Okla. – The Tulsa County reserve sheriff’s deputy who is accused of fatally shooting a man he says he meant to tase pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter Tuesday.

Robert Bates, 73, is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris, who police say ran from authorities after trying to sell an illegal handgun during an undercover sting.

Video shows Harris pinned to the ground as an officer calls for a Taser.

But in place of an electric clicking sound, a gunshot rings out.

Bates is then heard saying, “Oh! I shot him! I’m sorry!”

Officials say Harris was treated at the scene by EMSA medics and taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office investigated the shooting and determined that Bates committed no crime.

However, last week, District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler charged Bates with second-degree manslaughter involving culpable negligence.

During his arraignment on Tuesday, Bates pleaded not guilty to the charge.

A judge also said it was okay for Bates to take his month-long trip to the Bahamas between now and his next hearing.

His preliminary court hearing is scheduled for July 2.

 

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