Amidst all the police shootings that have been in the news lately, you’d have to think that police departments would be increasing the amount of training, not letting civilians on the streets pretend to be real police officers.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a sheriff’s deputy killed an unarmed suspect who was fleeing arrest. The deputy was attempting to use his taser but discharged his service weapon instead.
Investigators say Harris, a convicted felon, sold methamphetamine and a gun to undercover deputies during the sting, then tried to run when other deputies approached him after the transaction. Bates caught up with Harris, eventually tackling him to the ground. That’s when, deputies say, Harris appeared to be reaching for something in his waistband.
The video shows the suspect right up until the time he is initially subdued with a taser. He did not appear to be reaching for his waistband at that point. It’s hard to imagine he would have had the self control to reach for a gun after being tased. I’ll let you be the judge, though.
Here’s the video of the shooting and warning, it contains graphic language. Notice you hear one of the deputies saying “f*** your breath” after the suspect said he couldn’t breathe:
The original story described the shooter as Reserve Deputy and former police officer, 73-year-old Robert Bates.
We now know that Bates was a deputy for a total of one year, in 1964. He is one of 130 wealthy businessmen in Tulsa who donate money and supplies to the sheriff’s office and in return, are able to wear a uniform on occasion and pretend to be cops.
Bates reportedly donated multiple vehicles, guns and stun guns to the sheriff’s office.
According to Tulsa World, reservists come in three categories: basic, intermediate and advanced.
Bates is “advanced” and while he is not paid, he can do anything a deputy can do, but in a support role.
Although he had training and experience for the arrest team, he’s not assigned to the arrest team,” Clark said of Bates’ role on the task force. “He came to render aid during the altercation, but he’s in a support role during the operation. That means keeping notes, doing counter-surveillance, things like that.
Reservists are not untrained. Bates has had at least 320 hours of training with CLEET (the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training), which is the equivalent of two months of full time work. There is also an additional requirement of 480 hours of TCSO Field Training Officer Program. They are also required to play cop at least 40 hours every six months.
So, after the equivalent of five months of training and one year 50 years ago, Bates was given a gun and the authority to “perform normal field duties by themselves and without the direct supervision of a certified deputy.”
It’s still unclear whether charges will be pressed.
Featured image via ABC7.com.