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A former Oklahoma volunteer sheriff’s deputy is facing up to four years in prison after being convicted of killing an unarmed man.
A jury found Robert Bates, a volunteer reserve sheriff deputy for the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, guilty of second-degree manslaughter for shooting Eric Harris last year, reported CBS News.
Harris was unarmed when he ran from deputies after a sting operation last April. Bates, who was supposed to be backup, ended up with the other deputies who had tackled Harris to the ground. Bates, 74, said he meant to use his Taser but accidentally pulled his gun and fatally shot Harris.
“Mr. Harris shouldn’t have been there that day, but it certainly didn’t give Bob Bates the right to kill him,” said prosecutor Kevin Gray, according to CBS.
Bates’ attorney Clark Brewster was unable to convince jurors that a bad heart and drugs found in his system were the cause of Harris’ death. The jury deliberated under three hours, concluding that Bates acted recklessly. Bates faces the maximum sentence of four years, CBS reported.
“It was an especially difficult case to try in the climate of press that we’ve had that’s been negative for 12 months,” Brewster said, according to CBS.
The shooting last year ignited protests as questions were raised about why a then-73-year old reserve deputy was part of the sting operation. Other deputies were allegedly concerned about the lack of training Bates had received, according to an internal investigation, CBS reported.
Harris’ brother, Andre Harris said the conviction would finally provide some peace for the family. “That’s victory for my family. I can rest. I can have some peace!” he said.
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