Oklahoma Reserve Deputy, 73, Charged With Second-Degree Manslaughter in Stun-Gun Mix-Up: Tulsa DA

The Tulsa County D.A. announced the charge today.

ByEMILY SHAPIRO and CLAYTON SANDELL
April 13, 2015, 5:26 PM

— -- The 73-year-old volunteer reserve deputy in Oklahoma who fatally shot a suspect in an incident that the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office called "inadvertent" has now been charged with second-degree manslaughter, the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office said today.

Reserve deputy Robert Bates shot and killed Eric Harris April 2 after the deputy allegedly mistook his handgun for a stun-gun, officials said.

"Mr. Bates is charged with Second-Degree Manslaughter involving culpable negligence. Oklahoma law defines culpable negligence as ‘the omission to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the lack of the usual ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions,'” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in a statement today.

"The defendant is presumed to be innocent under the law but we will be prepared to present evidence at future court hearings."

PHOTO: Eric Harris was shot and killed in an incident that the Sheriff's Office calls an accident.
Eric Harris was shot and killed in an incident that the Sheriff's Office calls an accident.
Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

After viewing video of the shooting, a Tulsa Sheriff's Office spokesman told ABC News earlier today, "You can tell it was inadvertent. The gun popped out of his [Bates] hand. He wasn't expecting a recoil," Maj. Shannon Clark added.

Bates, an unpaid volunteer who worked on a violent crimes task force and had to maintain firearm proficiency, "never intended in his 73 years of life to take a human life," Clark said. "No one intended for Mr. Harris to die that day."

ABC News has been unable to reach Bates, and a message left at his daughter’s home has not been returned.

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