The Tulsa World reports that the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office—whose wealthy 73-year-old patron and volunteer “reserve deputy” Robert Bates shot suspect Eric Harris to death on April 2, apparently by accident—may have falsified the training and certification records that allowed him to participate in department operations. Bates has been officially affiliated with the department since 2007 or 2008. From the World:
Supervisors at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were ordered to falsify a reserve deputy’s training records, giving him credit for field training he never took and firearms certifications he should not have received, sources told the Tulsa World.
At least three of reserve deputy Robert Bates’ supervisors were transferred after refusing to sign off on his state-required training, multiple sources speaking on condition of anonymity told the World.
The sheriff’s department denied the allegations.
Bates, an insurance executive, worked for the Tulsa Police Department (not the Sheriff’s Office) as an officer in 1964 and 1965. He was sheriff Stanley Glanz’s campaign manager in 2012 and has donated five vehicles as well as guns and stun guns to the Sheriff’s Office, which says that “many” other wealthy individuals who donate items also participate in the “reserve” program.
Bates is accused of second-degree manslaughter for killing Harris during a sting operation; Harris allegedly ran from officers who were arresting him for selling a stolen gun. Harris was reportedly being subdued by two officers when Bates shot and killed him. Bates’ statements and video of the incident indicate that he mistakenly believed he was firing his Taser at Harris rather firing a gun.