The volunteer Tulsa County sheriff's officer who shot and killed an unarmed Eric Harris as he ran away, has been found guilty of second-degree manslaughter. Robert Bates, 73, wanted to be a cop, and used his close ties and monetary donations to the police department to forgo the necessary training. He acted as an officer of the law, gunning down Harris with a gun he was never qualified to carry. He will be serving serious time in prison after the jury recommended the harshest possible punishment for his crime.
Bates used the fact that he purchased new cars for the department and donated thousands of dollars to the department to get around his 480 hours of field training. He carried a firearm instead of the stun gun he was issued.
Body-cam footage of the incident shows Bates and another officer chasing a fleeing Harris. Harris was taken to the ground and being detained on the ground when a shot rang out.
"Oh, I shot him," Bates said after pulling the trigger. "I'm sorry."
"He shot me, man! Oh, my god," Harris yelled. To which the other officer, who was holding Harris against the ground despite the gunshot wound, which fractured two ribs and collapsed both his lungs, screamed back, "He didn't do s***, you hear me?"
After just under three hours of deliberation the jury came back with their verdict, recommending that Bates face the maximum punishment allowed for his crime — four years behind bars.
After Bates's guilty verdict came in, Harris's sister-in-law collapsed in tears in the courtroom. "I honestly wasn't sure that the guilty verdict was going to come back," she said. "And when it did, I was kind of blown away."
His brother, Andre Harris, voiced his hope that Harris will lead to police policy reform. "He accomplished a lot in his death, I think even more than in his life," he said. "I'mma miss my brother," he added.
Bates was not a true cop when he shot and killed Eric Harris. Strangely, he is one of the few people working for the law that will end up facing time for his crime.
See the price of police brutality with BET News, below:
(Photos from Left: Tulsa County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)