A 73-year-old deputy who shot a fleeing suspect to death during a slow police foot chase has been charged with 2nd degree manslaughter.
Eric Harris, 44, had been busted trying to sell a gun to an undercover detective when he took off running.
Police had already caught up to Harris and tackled him to the ground when a shot rang out.
“Oh, I shot him. I’m sorry,” 73-year-old reserve sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates told the other officers.
The Tulsa county prosecutor’s office charged Bates with 2nd-degree manslaughter in the April 2 incident.
Bates, who is white, said he confused his taser for his service weapon when he shot Harris, who is black. Both the taser and handgun are about the same size and shape.
A video shot by one of the officers who wore a sunglasses camera was released to the media at the request of Harris’s family.
An officer can be heard on the video shouting “f*ck yo’ breath,” when Harris said he couldn’t catch his breath.
Comparisons have been made between Harris’s death and the recent deaths of other unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.
Former S. Carolina patrolman Michael Slager has been charged with murder in the shooting death of Walter Scott on April 5. He is being held without bond.
A citizen’s video provided definitive proof that Slager was not in any danger when he fired eight shots at the fleeing Scott, hitting him four times in the back.
In an audio recorded inside Slager’s patrol unit after the shooting, Slager is heard laughing and making snide remarks during a phone call with a senior officer.
“By the time you get home, it would probably be a good idea to kind of jot down your thoughts on what happened,” the senior officer said. “You know, once the adrenaline quits pumping.”
“It’s pumping,” Slager said, laughing. The senior officer replied: “Oh yeah. Oh yeah.”
The North Charleston prosecutor’s office is considering charges against other officers for helping Slager cover up the crime.
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