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Deputy who allegedly mistook gun for Taser will turn himself in

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Tulsa County, Oklahoma Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, 73, faces manslaughter charges following an April 2, 2015, incident where Bates announced he was going to deploy his Taser.

Tulsa County, Oklahoma Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, 73, faces manslaughter charges following an April 2, 2015, incident where Bates announced he was going to deploy his Taser.

TULSA — The Tulsa County reserve deputy who fatally shot a man instead of using his Taser will turn himself in to authorities Tuesday, his attorney said.

Video shows Reserve Deputy Robert Bates announcing he is going to deploy his Taser after an undercover weapons sting on April 2 but then shooting Eric Courtney Harris in the back with a handgun.

Bates was charged with second-degree manslaughter Monday, and his attorney said the reserve deputy will turn himself in.

The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office says a sting operation caught Harris illegally selling a gun. Harris ran when officers came in for the arrest.

Authorities say Bates thought he pulled out his Taser but “inadvertently” fired his gun.

Harris’ brother, Andre Harris, told CNN that he is pleased District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler pressed charges.

In his opinion, however, no type of force should have been used in the arrest of his brother.

Watching the video of the shooting, Andre Harris said he can see that three or more officers were already on top of his brother. That manpower should have been enough to arrest him, he said.

“It was a situation where I didn’t necessarily think that a Taser should even be used,” Andre Harris said.

Scott Wood, an attorney for Bates, has said the shooting was an “excusable homicide.”

Investigators’ efforts to defend Bates and the other deputies involved in the arrest have sparked a mounting chorus of criticism online. Harris’ family members are demanding an independent investigation of what they call unjustified brutality.

They’re also questioning why the 73-year-old Bates — the CEO of an insurance company who volunteers as a certified reserve deputy — was on the scene in such a sensitive and high-risk sting operation.

Daniel Smolen, an attorney representing the Harris family, said Bates paid big money to play a cop in his spare time.

Bates, who was a police officer for a year in the 1960s, had been a reserve deputy since 2008, with 300 hours of training and 1,100 hours of community policing experience, according to the sheriff’s office.

He was also a frequent contributor to the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office, including $2,500 to the re-election of Sheriff Stanley Glanz.

The sheriff’s office has said that Bates had law enforcement certification, but Smolen said he has not seen any field training records.

“We’re holding up all right at this point,” Andre Harris said. “We’re putting our faith in God that justice will be served, and we can get some closure in this situation.”

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