Jurors recommended Robert Bates spend up to four years behind bars, the harshest sentence possible.
Autopsy results revealed Eric Harris was high on methamphetamine when he was killed
A former Oklahoma volunteer sheriff’s deputy who said he mistook his handgun for his stun gun when he fatally shot an unarmed suspect last year was convicted of second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday.
The shooting—which was caught on video—sparked several investigations that, among other things, revealed an internal 2009 memo questioning Mr. Bates’s qualifications as a volunteer deputy and showed that Mr. Bates, a close friend of the sheriff’s, had donated thousands of dollars in cash, vehicles and equipment to the agency.
Mr. Bates faces up to four years in prison.
Robert Bates, right, arrives at the Tulsa County Jail, was convicted for killing a suspect after he mistakenly grabbed a gun instead of his taser.
Robert Bates, who was signed up as an Oklahoma sheriff’s deputy volunteer on bogus training paperwork, shot and killed Eric Harris in April 2015, when he didn’t know the difference between a taser and a pistol.
“Oh, I shot him,” Bates said after pulling the trigger. “I’m sorry.”
The accidental gunshot fractured two of Harris’ ribs and caused his lungs to collapse.
Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, at the scene, announced he was going to deploy his Taser, but actually shot Eric Courtney Harris in the back with a handgun.
In the video, Bates could be heard saying, “Oh, I shot him. I’m sorry.”
Eric Harris, left, poses with his son, Aidan Fraley.
Following the shooting, an outside consultant hired to review the sheriff’s office determined that it suffered from a “system-wide failure of leadership and supervision” and had been in a “perceptible decline” for more than a decade. The reserve deputy program was later suspended.
Weeks after Mr. Harris was killed, an internal sheriff’s office memo from 2009 was released by an attorney for Mr. Harris’s family that alleged superiors knew Mr. Bates didn’t have enough training but pressured others to look the other way because of his relationship with the sheriff and the agency.
A grand jury also investigated the agency and indicted the longtime sheriff, Stanley Glanz, in September, accusing him of failing to release the 2009 memo. He resigned on Nov. 1.
The new sheriff, who was sworn into office earlier this month, has detailed plans to reform and revive the reserve deputy program.