A damning report accuses the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office of falsifying training records for the 73-year-old reserve deputy charged with manslaughter in a fatal incident in which he mistook his gun for a Taser, according to the Washington Post.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, supervisors in the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were ordered to falsify training records for Robert Bates, the 73-year-old insurance executive who fatally shot unarmed Eric Courtney Harris on April 2 when he whipped out a gun instead of a Taser, according to the Washington Post, which cites a report at the Tulsa World.
The false records gave Bates credit for field training he never received and firearms certifications he should not have received, the report says.
The Washington Post reports:
The Tulsa paper added that at least three of Bates’s supervisors were transferred after refusing to sign off on the state-required training.
Bates was certified as a “reserve deputy” — a volunteer position that requires applicants to undergo a mental capacity test and obtain certification from Oklahoma’s Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, local ABC affiliate KJRH reported. Reserve deputies must also re-qualify with a weapon each year…
Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz told KJRH that Bates had qualified for three weapons with the supervision of a firearms instructor, but the office was not able to find records from the qualification test. The instructor who trained Bates has since left the Tulsa Sheriff’s Office.
On Thursday, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office announced plans to conduct an internal review of the deputy program. From Tulsa World:
“As with any critical incident, we are doing an internal review of our program and policy to determine if any changes need to take place,” Tulsa County sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark said…
Undersheriff Tim Albin could not be reached for comment Wednesday by Tulsa World, but rejected claims in an earlier interview that Bates’ training records were falsified and that supervisors who refused to do so were transferred to less desirable assignments.
Tulsa police released a disturbing video of the incident last Friday, nearly nine days after the fatal shooting, and you can hear Harris’ last words, and the harsh police response to his pleas to stop, including “Shut the f— up!” after he was shot.
We are pleased the sheriff’s office is conducting an investigation, but there needs to be an outside review of this case to ensure that justice is done for Harris and his family.