Robert Bates, who said he mistook his handgun for his stun firearm, shot Eric Harris last year during an illegal gun sales sting and will expend four years in prison
A former Oklahoma volunteer sheriffs deputy who said he mistook his handgun for his stun firearm where reference is fatally shot an unarmed suspect last year was sentenced on Tuesday to four years in prison.
A judge gave Robert Bates, 74, the maximum penalty recommended by jurors who last month convicted the wealthy insurance executive of second-degree manslaughter.
Bates fatally shot Eric Harris while working with Tulsa County sheriffs deputies last year during an illegal firearm marketings sting. Harris, who had run from deputies, was restrained and unarmed when he was shot. Harris was black and Bates is white, but Harriss family have said they dont believe race played a role.
The shooting, which was captured on video, triggered several investigations. Among other things, the investigations disclosed an internal memoranda questioning Batess qualifications as a volunteer deputy and showed that Bates, a close friend of the sheriffs, had donated thousands of dollars in cash, vehicles and equipment to the sheriffs office.
After being sentenced, Bates was led away by deputies. His family members shouted, We love you! We love you! as he left court.
Judge Bill Musseman said handing down the prison sentence was a legitimate and moral outcome of Batess actions. He said he took into account Batess failing health and dozens of letters written by members of the community asking for leniency from the court.
Bates was given credit for the time he has served since being convicted. He must serve nine months of probation after his release.
Defense attorney Clark Brewster said they are planning an appeal.
Im confident well get a new audience through the appellate courts, and youll be interviewing me about the reversal, Brewster told reporters after the sentencing.
Batess defense attorneys argued at trial that methamphetamine found in Harriss system, along with his cardiac health, caused his death. Defense attorneys called the killing an excusable homicide.
But prosecutors told jurors that Bates was guilty of culpable negligence where reference is shot Harris. One deputy testified that Bates apparently dozed off minutes before Harris fled from deputies.
Following the shooting, an outside consultant hired to review the sheriffs office determined that the agency suffered from a system-wide failing of leadership and supervision and had been in a perceptible deterioration for more than a decade. The reserve deputy program was subsequently suspended.
Weeks after Harris was killed, an internal sheriffs office memo from 2009 was released by an attorney for Harriss family that alleged superiors knew Bates didnt have enough train but pressured others to look the other way because of his relationship with the sheriff and the agency.
A grand jury also investigated relevant agencies and indicted the longtime sheriff, Stanley Glanz, in September, accusing him of failing to release the 2009 memo. He resigned on 1 November.
The new sheriff, who was sworn into office last month, has detailed plans to reform and revive the reserve deputy program.
Glanz was among dozens of people who wrote letters of support for Bates ahead of Tuesdays sentencing. Glanz wrote that he didnt believe his longtime friend was a threat or a danger to anyone and should not be placed in an overcrowded country prison system.
This is a terrible injustice for a human that made a terrible mistake in a split second, Glanz wrote in the letter submitted to the court.
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