Pay-to-play reserve sheriff’s deputy claims he mistook his gun for a taser when he killed a man in handcuffs

Tulsa police officer, Sergeant Jim Clark, who was appointed to investigate the shooting death of Eric Harris, 44, came up with an incredibly lame explanation to justify his conclusion that no crime was committed and no departmental policy was violated.

Vox sets the scene,

Robert Bates, a white reserve deputy in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, shot and killed Eric Harris, an unarmed black man, during an April 2 sting operation after Harris was pinned to the floor by multiple officers.

In video footage released Friday, it appears Bates meant to use his stun gun on Harris, warning deputies that he was going to use his Taser before firing a shot from his actual gun. Immediately after firing, he shouted: “I shot him! I’m sorry!”

The footage was taken after a sting operation, in which officers caught Harris illegally selling guns, NBC News and CNN reported.

Robert Bates, 73, is a pay-to-play reserve sheriff’s deputy. When he is not playing cops and robbers, he is an executive with an insurance company.

Harris is black and yet another unarmed victim of a police shooting.

USA Today reports what Sergeant Clark said,

“Reserve Deputy Bates did not commit a crime,” he said. “There’s no other determination I could come to.”

Clark cited “slip and capture,” a psychological phenomenon where, under stress, someone’s behavior “slips” off the intended path after being “captured” by a stronger response demanded by the brain.

Clark determined that Bates was a “victim” of the phenomenon.

We have at least criminal (gross) negligence here. Besides Harris being black, maybe they decided to call this an accident because Bates has ‘paid’ a lot to play cop.

Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark told the World that Bates donates his time and is a highly regarded member of the Reserve Deputy Program. He has also donated multiple vehicles, guns and stun guns, Clark said.

“There are lots of wealthy people in the reserve program,” he said. “Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all.”

I don’t know if I am more shocked by the killing or the incredibly lame justification to excuse it.

I guess the smell of greasepaint and the roar of the crowd beats watching a movie.

UPDATE: CNN reported late yesterday after I published this article at Firedoglake that Reserve Deputy Sheriff Robert Bates has been charged with second degree manslaughter.

81 Responses to Pay-to-play reserve sheriff’s deputy claims he mistook his gun for a taser when he killed a man in handcuffs

  1. Trained Observer says:

    Odd how Freddy’s legal folding knife amazingly turned into a switchblade under cops’ gaze. Are they beyond stupid or just liars … or both?

    Good thing prosecutors know what’s legal on the knife front. No probable cause was the first of many mistakes this copper sextet made. I look forward to hearing them explain their actions on the stand.

  2. MichelleO says:

    “I was afraid for my life” “His driver’s license looked like a weapon”

    “I thought I had my hand on my Taser instead of my gun”…….You get the point.

    I recently went to my first target shooting practice. Boy, the fear I felt from being in a place with lots of weapons and lots of Americans. The tension in the air! I felt just like a target. Let’s just say that I won’t be back.

  3. Malisha says:

    They should prosecute for cover-up as well as for beating a man to death. Every “leak,” every lie, every cover-up between this man’s arrest and now should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There has to be a time when people start getting scared of jumping in to lie about what has happened. The time is NOW.

  4. Malisha says:

    BALTIMORE UPDATE: All six police officers are being indicted for killing Freddie Grey! I believe the state’s attorney’s office realized they weren’t going to walk around this one in Baltimore; the city was seething! Good for them, that they all six are facing the music.

    I still want to see those six statements they made about what happened. The state’s atty says there was



    • girlp says:

      Now a jury that is willing to convict based on evidence….I cannot see how he could almost break his back on his own. the police leaks lare really transparent.

    • MichelleO says:

      DOES anyone really believe that they were driving recklessly down the street—or was he simply beaten to death?

  5. Malisha says:

    OK I can’t help laughing at the most recent blonde joke coming out of Ankara, Turkey. See, our state dept. spokeswoman over there has criticized Turkey’s brutal police actions in 2013 but now, she has made no comment about the killing of unarmed Black men in the US, while the same kind of conduct has been harming Turkey’s image abroad. See, we don’t get to act like the big good guys in the world any more. I mean, Asia Minor gets ahead of us on a police brutality issue?

    read it here.

    So see, killing innocent Americans IN AMERICA is starting to really give us a black eye, as a nation, abroad. Hmmmm…

  6. Greg Beasley says:

    If anyone wants to know why the police have become trigger happy psychopaths, prepare to be shocked:

  7. Trained Observer says:

    He boasts about how his attorney for another situation hasn’t sent him a bill for services …. speculating because he’s played an insider role at the sheriff’s office on behalf of some of the lawyer’s other clients. Swell.

  8. Malisha says:

    OK I can’t see where there is boasting of connections. Is there a transcript? What I did notice was this:

    The sheriff’s office has failed to produce numerous documents requested by the AP, including documents supporting Bates’ training and any of his disciplinary records.

    Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler has said he’s highly concerned about the allegations in the report and that an outside agency should investigate the entire operation under Glanz. There is no indication that any outside law enforcement agency has launched an investigation.

    Of course, the key to the Tulsa Sheriff’s office staying in the cover-up position here is that they avoid an FBI investigation at all costs. Many of the Tulsa cops are READY, WILLING AND ABLE to speak because some of them have been mistreated on behalf of Bates and whereas they may be just as racist and disgusting as he is, they did not like getting fed proverbial “shit sandwiches” when they were trying to do their own work.

    For once, an FBI investigation would not meet a stone wall, here. The thing is ready to burst at its own seams without much of a kick.

    So they’re doing everything possible to hang up the garlic and keep the feds out of there. Oklahoma feds are all on their side (the field office is totally kissing Glanz’s glands) but there is a certain friend of a friend of someone in the DC DOJ who may be able to get something to happen. Then heads WILL roll and Bates will lose his passport and be unable to return to Oklahoma or something.

    May every one of them get exactly what he or she deserves.

  9. Trained Observer says:

    Turns out the Tulsa wanna be copper killer has a home in Vero Beach, Florida. Maybe he and Fogen can meet up on I-95 and blast each other to smithereens.

    Here’s more evidence (recorded on the sneak) of what a bully this pig is …

  10. Malisha says:

    A ditty keeps running through my mind:
    (to the tune of “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands)

    If you shot him and you’re sorry, pay the price,
    if you shot him and you’re sorry, pay the price,
    If you shot him and you’re sorry,
    you don’t really have to worry,
    Just don’t spout some silly story: PAY THE PRICE!

    If you shot him and you’re sorry, go to jail,
    if you shot him and you’re sorry, go to jail,
    If you shot him and you’re sorry,
    you don’t really have to worry,
    Just don’t spout some silly story: GO TO JAIL!

    • Trained Observer says:

      oh, oh, now I’ll be humming that all afternoon. Now that # 2 at the Tulsa Sheriff’s Office has fallen on his sword, any bets on how long it will be before Glanz decided to spend more time with his good friend and family?

    • gblock says:

      Hm, what if, like Fogen, you’re not sorry?

  11. Malisha says:

    OMG I love this report. The Oklahoma City clique in the FBI, indeed the ENTIRE FBI, are not going to be able to protect the Tulsa Sheriff’s office now. Somebody IS going to have to “develop a taste for it.” EXTRA EXTRA EXTRA, Read all about it here:

    And the devil is in the details indeed. See, if Fogen had money, he could have gotten his place in the police department and done the doody duty without chasing all over the neighborhood doing “slave patrol” — in Tulsa, the kind of money Bates had brought him his hobby tazing and killing Black men (who knows how many he has really killed before it became newsworthy, huh?) and it bought a good lot of trouble for Glanz and his crowd in Commupanceville NOW.

    Anybody betting on whether Bates comes back from Bermuda?

    • Trained Observer says:

      It’s the Bahamas, not Bermuda, but yeah, he might want to consider shuffling on down to Paraguay. WTF.

  12. Trained Observer says:

    I continue to have suspicions (admittedly mild, not overwhelming) that Bates DID NOT mistake his gun for his taser …. that in reality he got caught up in the hot damn excitement of it all … that he convinced himself that the subject was armed, and that he decided he was gonna get himself one before his days as a pay-to-play copper petered out with his advancing age and expanding flab-belly. .

    Just my opinion.

  13. Malisha says:

    OK, this is psycho plus, but it has a certain high-bizarre quality to it and nobody actually got killed. Chicago Judge (African American woman 79 years old!) is outside the courthouse smoking a cigarette when some 55-year-old racist white guy passes by and orders her to move away from him, whereupon appears to be dissatisfied by her response (whatever it was) and proceeds to spit in her face twice, slap her face with an open hand, and yell at her: “Rosa Parks, MOVE!”

    Then he finds out she’s a judge (a SENIOR JUDGE) in that courthouse and he’s actually going to have to answer for his behavior, I love it.

    Now look, had there not been cameras and witnesses and had she not been a judge, he could have just killed her and said she threatened him with a cigarette and he’d skate. But he’s not a cop and apparently not even an intellectual equal to Fogen (“Rosa Parks”????? Why not “f*cking coon” that he could have claimed was “f*cking punk” afterwards?) so he might get his day in real court.

    Is the thing getting so bad that it’s past the point of simple evil and spilling over into un-f*cking-believable?

    Who’s his public defender gonna be? Frederick Douglass?

  14. Malisha says:

    The Sheriff’s quote, answering the charge that they killed somebody in the street and must answer for it, said “That’s the business we’re in; life and death.” As in, “Oh we’re life-and-death guys so sometimes there’s just death, so get over it.” WEIRD and CREEPY. I thought they were in the business of public safety and protection from crime. Little did I know.

    WOW, romantic and kinda TV-ish, ain’t it? Sounds like a trailer: “When you’re in the business of life and death, sometimes there’s … death!”

    • Malisha says:

      Imagine, somebody gets charged with rape, and he says, in his own defense: “I’m in the business of sex and pleasure; sometimes people get raped.”

  15. Malisha says:

    Today someone from FBI HQ returned one of my calls, only to tell me the following: (1) The inspector general of the FBI will not look into the issue; (2) If I want to make a complaint I can go ahead and do so blah blah blah blah; and (3) kiss off.

    So the FBI have not investigated, and they will not confirm or deny the alleged statement they may have made on April 20, 2015 about not investigating, and there is no number to call with “new information” that might lead to an investigation, and call DOJ but there is nobody at DOJ who is dealing with this issue.

    Sound familiar? It’s called: “WE HAVE GUNS AND YOU DON’T”

  16. Malisha says:

    The person who I thought (and still believe) gave me his name as “Gary Weller” was not really Gary Weller; he was TERRY WEBER.

    He spoke with me today and refused to confirm OR deny that the following statement was actually issued by the FBI on April 20, 2015:

    “The FBI has reviewed the information from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office shooting of Eric Harris. It has been determined, based on the information available at this time, that a Civil Rights Investigation into the shooting death of Mr. Harris is not warranted. The FBI will remain open to re-evaluating the matter should new information or evidence come to the surface that would warrant such a review.”

    REFUSED to confirm or deny. Gave me the # of the office of public affairs in the DOJ, who refused to give me information when I called them four times yesterday and today. THEY connect you to the FBI!

    He was very “politely” nasty. He went on that “Ma’am, ma’am, this conversation is ended” kind of trip, you know, superior to me because he has a big Guuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnn……….

    It’s OK. I’ll put in a few rounds of phone work and a fax or two. Another question I have is: since they say they WILL investigate if they get more information, WHERE does one CALL with the information one has that can be considered “more information”? HUH? Because if there IS a possibility of investigation once there is “more information,” there should be a way to give that information to them, ain’t?

  17. Malisha says:

    Newsflash guys: This “Gary Weller” who was described to me as the “Media Guy” in the “field office” of the FBI and who told me that no calls to the “field office” about the killing of Eric Harris are being answered and that, instead, all callers are being referred instead to the “DOJ” is — ready? — is NOT available when you call the Tulsa field office and ask for the “media guy.” They claim they do not know such a person. Both Oklahoma offices I called claim not to have any “Gary Weller” working there. Meanwhile the inspector general of the DOJ in DC will not take information about this problem. They say you can write up and fax them a complaint about an FBI agent if you have a complaint about an FBI agent but, of course, nobody HAS a ccomplaint about any FBI agent since no information has been released by the FBI about any agent who performed or did not perform any alleged investigation or who decided or did not decide NOT to conduct any such investigation.

    Get it?

    Your government is, roughly, equivalent to the government of any third-world tyranny that need not give your family any valid information if they kill you. Is that clear?

  18. bettykath says:

    Pay to play deputy was charged with the least charge and will undoubtedly walk since he’s good buddy with the sheriff and others, probably the judge, too considering he’s now on his planned vacation in Bermuda. Sooooo, kill a Black man and go on vacation in the sun and sand.

    • Trained Observer says:

      Actually, he was cleared for travel to the Bahamas … where I hope he has a miserable time being dogged by everyone from private dicks working for the victim’s family to TMZ.

      This pay for play copper with his big belly overhang can’t even walk out of the courthouse without waddling … and he wants to get out in the field for sting action?

      Hopefully as this case deepens he’ll become a pariah in his own home turf and his legal bills will put an end to frequent Bahamas getaways.

  19. Malisha says:

    OK Get THIS:

    Sheriff Glanz needs to pack up his glands and go home.

    This quotation from NY Daily News dated April 20, 2015:

    The FBI cleared an Oklahoma sheriff’s deputy of violating a suspect’s civil rights in the case of a Tulsa County reserve deputy fatally shooting an unarmed man after the volunteer grabbed his revolver instead of his stun gun, the sheriff said Monday.

    So I phoned the FBI HQ and got referral to the field office in Tulsa OK and spoke with the guy there who said he had to refer me to the “media guy” and the “media guy” (Gary Weller) told me that ALL CALLS REGARDING THE ERIC HARRIS INCIDENT are being referred to the DOJ in DC. So I said, “Well I just want to know about what has already taken place. I read that the Sheriff of Tulsa claimed that the FBI already investigated this incident and cleared Robert Bates; I searched for the FBI’s own statement to that effect and could not find it.”

    He repeated that all calls have to be referred to DOJ. So I asked him “Was a statement issued by the FBI?” Yes there was. “Where can I find it?” It should be on line. “Where do I look for it?” I don’t know. “What date was it issued?” April 20, 2015.

    Here’s reference by TV about the “statement” issued April 20, 2015 by the FBI:

    The headline of this article states unequivocally:

    FBI will not conduct Civil Rights Investigation in accidental shooting death by reserve deputy

    The article quotes, as the “statement” of the FBI, the following, within quotation marks:

    “The FBI has reviewed the information from the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office shooting of Eric Harris. It has been determined, based on the information available at this time, that a Civil Rights Investigation into the shooting death of Mr. Harris is not warranted. The FBI will remain open to re-evaluating the matter should new information or evidence come to the surface that would warrant such a review.”

    So, that means:

    The information given to the FBI BY THE SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT ITSELF was not enough information to make the FBI conclude that it was “warranted” to conduct an investigation into the conduct of the law enforcement agencies involved (i.e., sheriff).

    IOW, the subject of the investigation has provided information indicating that the investigation of the subject of the investigation is not needed.

    Neat little trick, that. Had Eric Harris been given the same opportunity to provide information on whether or not HE should have been investigated, this might have come out differently. Huh?

    • Malisha says:

      Oh and another thing. I asked Weller how many calls he had today that had to be referred to DOJ. I was only the second call today. So I asked, how many yesterday? “A handful.”

      So this story is being accepted by most media sources as true.

      Also, DOJ is a big place. I asked him for a specific number or name of whom I should speak with about this and he had (of course, of course, naturally) no idea. Have a nice day.

    • Malisha says:

      UPDATE: DOJ has now discarded (by various means) three of my calls. First I got sent back in the loop to the FBI. Then I got put through to press office who refused to speak with me because I did not identify myself as a journalist. Then I was sent to public affairs office who refused to listen to me, and when I insisted, and said my piece, she said, “May I talk now?” and I said, “yes,” whereupon she transferred me to a line that hung up.

      There probably IS no DOJ location that will respond. This is the famous “circle-jerk” response for which the DOJ is famous. They did this for 25 months in the Trayvon Martin murder.

      • girlp says:

        You can get away with so much when you have money….I hope he loses all his Brown and Black customers plus some.

  20. Malisha says:

    Something just occurred to me and I’m so mad at myself for not thinking this immediately when I heard this story, but here it is:

    WHY was Bates trying to TASE a man who was already on the ground with 2 officers on him? To me, it’s possible that this whole thing was set up by the cops as an opportunity for Bates to tase somebody (a new experience, something he wanted to try for himself?) because there would not seem any reason for doing it.

    Could have been SPORT.

  21. In the meantime, St. Louis-area police have killed another young black man:

    I contacted the reporter who wrote this story two days ago with a few questions, but she has not responded.

    • Malisha says:

      THIS was a case where a taser might have been used, but NOT a BULLET! Even a big NET would have worked! A young African American man walking into a crowd of armed police armed with a knife and a Bible? He was a religious paranoid suicide and the cops were tools!

    • gblock says:

      I don’t remember the name or location, but I’m also really wondering about a case that was in the news last night. A black man was taken away by the police (so far as I know, for a legitimate reason). Shortly after that, he tried to escape and was brought back to the vehicle. A couple of minutes later, he asked for an inhaler. The police then put him in leg irons (huh?). It was about 10 minutes before they got medical help to him. He died in the hospital some days later. The autopsy showed a sever spinal cord injury, which is not explained by other stated facts of the case.

      • a2nite says:



        It’s also on the news every day as he died from his injuries while in police custody.

        The family is to get his remains today & will perform their own autopsy. MD has a law police bill of rights better than the Constitution that protects the evil killer cops with extra protections. The can remain silent for 10 days or longer.

        There are 6 on their paid vacation but someone will talk.

        There is still no reason for the arrest, nor how where why he was injured.

        • gblock says:

          Thanks! I think I heard yesterday that a video shows him being dragged along the ground by his arms and legs by the cops. I’m not sure how reliable that report was.

          • Diamonique says:

            I’ve seen that video several times. They were dragging him to the van. It looked like he was in terrible pain, and he couldn’t use his legs. I’ve heard that one of his legs was broken. If that’s so, it would explain it. But then… how did his leg get broken?

  22. Malisha says:

    I guess I never read this one after the Fogen verdict came in. But I’m glad I read it now:

  23. Trained Observer says:

    Call me cynical, but I’m not entirely certain this was a “mistake” as claimed.

    “I shot him … I’m sorry” strikes me as just a tad off …. a little rehearsed perhaps just a tinge of “aaaww” sarcasm.

    On the other hand, if it was indeed a case of mistaken gun that wasn’t a taser after all, the sheriff’s department is damn lucky the pay for play copper didn’t shoot a real deputy — maybe the dude who put his knee on the neck of the dying guy.

    This old coot belongs in a cell with the geeze in Tampa who thought the movie theater was a shooting gallery for texters.

    BTW, the appearance on the Today show with the killer flanked by his trophy wife, a couple of kids, and his lawyer in my opinion came off as stupid. He’s not even a youthful looking 73.

  24. Malisha says:

    Oh my, fake records, cover-up, lies and “mistakes” and all like that?

    Astonishing, ain’t? They apparently said, “It’s very hard to keep a secret in a law enforcement agency.” On what planet?

  25. girlp says:

    There’s no such thing as “slip and capture” it was made up by law enforcement.

    • Malisha says:

      It’s a TV thing.

    • Bill Taylor says:

      it is a very sad joke “slip and capture” as claimed is when a person means to do one thing but rather than do that they slip and capture a more common movement that is practiced often……so what they are saying is this old part time volunteer has a well developed HABIT of drawing his weapon…….that alone is very scary.

  26. racerrodig says:

    For the record, the thug with the tribal tattoo is a cop……..what’s up with that. Then Harris says “….you shot me…” and the response is “he didn’t mean to”

    Right……….and Fogen had all good intentions, Duuhhnnn saw a gun barrel and Wafer was scared.

    Insanity………………all of them.

    • Malisha says:

      But insanity is being OUT OF TOUCH with reality. These racist murders are actually IN TOUCH with reality. They think they can get away with murder and very often they do. A terrible reality but one that means a lot to any racist who wants to put a notch in his own accidental gun…

    • lady2soothe says:

      A former Oxnard California police officer is blowing the whistle on a sick practice of officers in the department proudly “earning” tattoos every time they shoot and kill people while on duty:

      The former Oxnard police officer who recently left the department said he saw the tattoos on the officers. He made a drawing of what the “shooting” tattoo looks like. He said the tattoos were probably purchased from a tattoo shop in Port Hueneme because that is where Oxnard officers go to get tattooed.

      The former Oxnard police officer also provided the names of seven Oxnard officers and two retired officers who allegedly had the tattoos. The nine names also included two officers who are currently commanders at the Oxnard Police Department. One is a watch commander.

      The former Oxnard officer told American Justice that if smoke is added to the tattoo, coming out of the barrel, then the shooting was fatal. He said the tattoos are “earned” by officers involved in shootings.

  27. Disappointed says:

    I’m glad someone decided he should be charged. It’s not enough but I guess we start with baby steps. I believe the cop that said fuck your breath should be fired. They are calling it an accidental shooting. Then why does the cop respond like that? Why not be concerned? Talk to the victim like it’s your dying family member. I don’t understand the police. Protect and serve. Serve all even your victim. Jmho.

  28. Two sides to a story says:

    Geez, there shouldn’t be such a thing as pay-to-play cops. Life is bad enough with the trained, full-time ones. At least this one has been charged – and at least he’s sorry – but still. Yikes.

    • gblock says:

      I absolutely agree. I am shocked by the concept. Being a cop (especially if you are carrying a gun) should not be considered a game!

  29. Rachael says:

    The killing is shocking, indeed. However, I am more shocked at that justification. Oh, perhaps that does explain what and why, but how the heck does that justify it? smh. Every day. I’m sick of this.

  30. racerrodig says:

    You want to talk about 0 on the Credibility Scale, this rates right there with Duuuhhhhnnnn claiming he saw a shotgun barrel……or a stick.

    Let me climb on into my Lamborghini………no wait, it’s actually a Chevy Vega……..what’s the diff ??????

    He pays the jurisdiction to be a cop ?? Huhhhhh ? That’s like asking the KKK to provide security at a Rap All Star concert.

    • Hi, Racerod.

      You really got my imagination flying with,

      That’s like asking the KKK to provide security at a Rap All Star concert.


      The dude paid for vacations for cops and stuff. Lots of stuff. Chief sugar daddy for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s department. Probably won’t do any time. It’s a 4-year max.

      • racerrodig says:

        If he “pays” to be a cop, then this country is in serious condition. I was completely unfamiliar with this pay to be a cop concept. I know a bit about “pay to play” politics / business / corruption, but this looks like a recipe for disaster.

        What training did he have ?

        • The Sheriff claimed over 300 hours of this ‘n that, but no records have been produced to verify it.

          • racerrodig says:

            Just what the community needs……….a rich guy, with leverage, a gun and, well…………he’s 73. That’s pretty much who I’d want in an emergency.

            Can you say “Civil Lawsuit” 5 times real fast.

          • Malisha says:

            I’ll bet any time he was hanging out w/cops that was an “hour” to be counted as his “experience.” Remember the cops who were in the Dallas jail when they “allowed” Lee Harvey Oswald to be murdered on national television by Jack Ruby, a doofus (and probably a suspect-killing cover-up pawn) who used to come by and bring the cops sandwiches because he loved his country? This kind of thing happens everywhere and it is called “corruption.”

        • Malisha says:

          Betcha Fogen would have paid to play cops and suspects if he had any money (or could beg any before becoming famous for a racist murder). UGH!!

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