Oklahoma Volunteer Deputy Convicted of Killing Unarmed Black Man

The inexperienced volunteer deputy who fatally shot an unarmed Black man in Oklahoma last April was convicted of second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday.


Robert Bates, 74, who was a volunteer reserve deputy for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, claimed he meant to use his Taser but “inadvertently” fired his gun when he killed Eric Courtney Harris.

Harris was the subject of a sting operation when he ran from police. Officers caught up to Harris, tackled him and were holding him on the ground when Bates rushed out of his car, jumped on top of Harris and shot him in the back.

According to the sheriff’s office, Bates was supposed to be providing backup and parked several blocks away. Prosecutor John Luton told the jury Bates was nodding off in his car prior to the incident.

Bates’ lack of proper training and his close relationship with former Sheriff Stanley Glanz including his having donated thousands of dollars to the Tulsa Sheriff’s Office

were both called into question following the shooting, with many saying he should not have been there in the first place. Bates was the CEO of an insurance company and had served as a reserve deputy since 2008. He worked for the Tulsa Police Department in the mid-1960s but left after only one year.

Back in 2009, the Tulsa Sheriff’s Office launched an internal investigation to determine if Bates received special treatment during training and while working as a reserve deputy after other deputies raised concerns. The investigation concluded that Bates had not received proper training and had, in fact, been given preferential treatment.

Deputies reportedly described Bates’ behavior in the field as “scary,” but they were told by supervisors to “stop messing with [Bates] because he does a lot … for the county.”

“The case, though, is not only about Mr. Bates’ conduct, but it’s about why he was allowed to be there to begin with,” Harris family attorney Dan Smolen said following the shooting.

Glanz resigned in November.

Defense witness Dr. Charles Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist, testified that Bates may have pulled his gun during the arrest because people tend to resort to their habits, not training, during times of “uncontrollable stress.”

“Bob Bates didn’t act with usual and ordinary care,” Luton, the prosecutor, said in his closing argument. “He also didn’t do what a reasonable person would do under similar circumstances. Eric Harris deserved to be chased, he deserved to be tackled, he deserved to be arrested. He did not deserve to be killed by reserve deputy Bob Bates.”

The all-white jury, consisting of six women and eight men, deliberated for less than three hours and recommended Bates serve four years in prison, the maximum possible sentence. Preliminary sentencing is set for May 31.

Following Bates’ conviction, Harris’ brother Andre said his family was relieved. “I thank God for the conviction,” he said. “I hope he’s taught a lesson that all lives matter.”

Latest News

women in politics

Women Remain Vastly Underrepresented in Local Government, Despite Conventional Wisdom Suggesting Otherwise

Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sat behind President Biden during his first speech to a joint session of Congress on April 28 — representing the first time two women held such important and high-ranking political offices. Even after such a historic moment, the reality…

voter restriction

Florida Follows Georgia’s Lead, Approves Racist Anti-Voter Restrictions Aimed Primarily at Democrats and People of Color

Not content with letting Georgia be the only state in the South demonized for its bigoted and racist attacks on voter rights, Florida has jumped into the fray in issuing its own series of new and highly controversial “Jim Crow-esque” anti-voting restrictions aimed specifically at disenfranchising Democrats and voters of…

Kentucky Derby

Inspired by Protests Over Breonna Taylor’s Death, Humana and Kentucky Derby Festival Launch Diversity and Inclusion Initiative in Louisville

Ahead of the 147th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1, Kentucky Derby officials and Humana (No. 25 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020) have announced a new equity initiative meant to make the race more accessible and welcoming to everyone, regardless of race, gender, age…

crimes against human ity

‘Crime Against Humanity’; Global Report Says the US Should Be Prosecuted in International Criminal Court for Ongoing Police Murders of Black Americans

In what has been described as a “devastating” report, human rights experts and lawyers have investigated and released a 188-page analysis of the ongoing police brutality and killing of Black Americans in the U.S. Their verdict: the country is guilty of “crimes against humanity” and should be prosecuted for its…

Tokyo, Olympics

Tokyo Olympics to Encourage Significant Increase in Gender Equality Among Event’s Corporate Sponsors

Besides simply being a showcase for some of the most talented and athletic men and women on the planet, the organizers of the Tokyo Olympics are hoping their event this summer can also help promote significant change in corporate culture, both in Japan and around the globe. Bloomberg’s Ayai Tomisawa…

AbbVie Joins Over 400 Leading US Employers in the Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Business Coalition for the Equality Act’

Originally published on LinkedIn. AbbVie ranked No. 19 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.   AbbVie has joined a group of over 400 corporations and leading U.S. employers to support the Human Rights Campaign’s “Business Coalition for the Equality Act,” an initiative advocating for federal…

Accenture and Goodwill Develop Virtual Experience To Help People Impacted by the Criminal Justice System Enter the Workforce

Originally published at prnewswire.com. Accenture is ranked No. 5 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2020.   Goodwill Industries International has teamed with Accenture to develop an innovative virtual experience called Project Overcome. The experience is designed for people impacted by the criminal justice system who want to…