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Sheriff’s Deputy Who Accidentally Shot And Killed An Unarmed Man Charged With Manslaughter

Posted by New Leaders Council 4 Admin on April 14, 2015 at 4:30 PM

Originally published by Think Progress on April 13 2015, by Ian Millhiser.

Robert Charles Bates, the 73 year-old insurance-executive-turned-volunteer-cop who was caught on video fatally shooting an unarmed black suspect was charged with second degree manslaughter on Monday. The charges allege that Bates demonstrated “culpable negligence” when he shot and killed Eric Harris while Harris was fleeing police. Under Oklahoma law, culpable negligence is defined as “the omission to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the lack of the usual ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions.”

Though Bates briefly served as a full-time cop in 1964 and 1965, he encountered Harris while serving as a member of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office’s “reserve deputy” program. This program allowed Bates, who is also a major donor to the sheriff’s office, to “do anything a full-time deputy can do” after he completed a lengthy training program. Reserve deputies are not paid and they are only required to work 40 hours every six months to maintain their certification.

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