Oklahoma volunteer deputy disputes claim he lacked training
Tulsa, Okla. — A 73-year-old Oklahoma volunteer deputy charged in the fatal shooting of a suspect in Tulsa went on national television Friday to counter criticisms of his qualifications.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the April 2 shooting, Robert Bates told NBC’s “Today” show that characterizations of himself as a wealthy donor who paid to join the force are “unbelievably unfair.”
The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office volunteer also disputed anonymously sourced comments in the Tulsa World newspaper that sheriff’s office supervisors were ordered to falsify his training records. Bates previously said he received active shooter training from Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, but a spokeswoman said Thursday the office has no record of that.
Bates said Friday that he is certified to be a reserve deputy.
“I have it in writing,” Bates said.
Video released by the sheriff’s office shows Eric Harris running and deputies restraining him after an undercover gun deal. Bates said he shot the 44-year-old suspect after confusing his stun gun and handgun.
“You must believe me, it can happen to anyone,” Bates said.
Bates said the shooting was accidental and apologized to Harris’ family.
“I rate this as number one on my list of things in my life that I regret,” he said.
The Tulsa district attorney has charged Bates with second-degree manslaughter.
Democratic Rep. Mike Shelton of Oklahoma City and the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union have called for an independent investigation of the office. An office spokesman said Thursday it would conduct an internal review of the reserve deputy program.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.