Authorities in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said a white reserve deputy made an "inadvertent mistake" earlier this month when he fatally shot an unarmed black man, claiming he accidentally pulled out his gun instead of his Taser. Officials claimed the Oklahoma shooting of Eric Harris was an accident after they released graphic video of the bungled arrest, which was caught by an officer's body camera. The April 2 shooting had gone relatively undetected until the footage emerged on Friday.
The fated encounter, which police are currently classifying as a "tragic event," began when Harris was allegedly caught attempting to sell illegal firearms to undercover cops. The video, which was released in full by the New York Daily News, showed the 44-year-old fleeing as authorities began to pursue him. Officers caught up to Harris and tackled him to the ground. As authorities attempt to handcuff Harris, Robert Bates, a 73-year-old reserve deputy, was heard yelling that he was going to use his Taser. He fired a single shot from his gun, which he then dropped to the ground. Right after he fired, Bates shouted, "I shot him! I'm sorry!"
As police continued to pin Harris to the ground, he was heard screaming, "He shot me. He shot me, man. Oh my god. I'm losing my breath." In the video, officers could be heard responding, "You shouldn't have f***ing ran," and "F*** your breath." Harris was pronounced dead an hour later at a Tulsa hospital, authorities said.
According to a statement released by authorities, Harris was a convicted felon who told undercover police he could provide a number of illegal firearms, including a sawed off shotgun and 9mm semi-automatic pistol. The statement also alleged that Harris continued to resist arrest even after being shot and admitted to medics at the scene that he was under the influence of Phencyclidine, a drug better known by its street name PCP. Authorities said the medical examiner has yet to determine Harris' cause of death.
Tulsa World reported Bates is a wealthy insurance executive who has provided a number of valuable items to the Sheriff's Officer throughout the years. Those items, worth thousands of dollars, included vehicles, guns, and Tasers, which were donated to the Violent Crimes Task Force, where Bates chose to spend his 80 hours a year as a reserve deputy, according to the newspaper. According to a statement released by police, Bates is a former full-time officer, who had received specialized training in homicide investigation and meth lab identification and decontamination.
In a phone interview with a Tulsa World reporter Friday, Bates confirmed he was the shooter.
It was me. My attorney has advised me not to comment. As much as I would like to, I can't.
Video of Harris' shooting surfaced within less than a week of a video that emerged showing South Carolina man Walter Scott, who is also black, fatally shot in the back by white police officer Michael Slager. Slager now faces a murder charge.
Image: Tulsa County Sheriff's Office