Grand jury probe allowed into Tulsa sheriff’s office
Tulsa, Okla. — The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday refused to delay a grand jury investigation into the Tulsa sheriff’s office after a former volunteer deputy fatally shot an unarmed and restrained man in April.
It paves the way for a grand jury to assemble Monday in Tulsa district court to begin investigating whether Sheriff Stanley Glanz neglected his duties and whether reservists who gave gifts to the sheriff — including Robert Bates, who fatally shot Eric Harris on April 2 — were given special treatment. The court ruled 7-0, court referee Greg Albert said.
Harris had been restrained after running from authorities during a sting involving gun sales. Bates, who has claimed he mistook his handgun for a stun gun, has pleaded not guilty to a second-degree manslaughter charge and will face a jury trial in February.
Weeks after the shooting, a 2009 memo was leaked that raised concerns about the training for Bates, a friend of Glanz who has donated tens of thousands of dollars in equipment, vehicles and cash to the sheriff’s office.
The petition calling for the probe, circulated by We the People Oklahoma, was signed by more than 6,600 voters; only 5,000 signatures were required.
Attorneys for Glanz tried to block the grand jury from meeting, arguing that the petition drive to empanel a grand jury did not comply with state laws governing the collection of signatures and that the petitions misled would-be signees.
A district judge rejected that argument and ordered the grand jury to assemble. The attorneys for Glanz quickly appealed the case to the Supreme Court, where a court referee heard argument Tuesday.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting and a Texas-based firm has been hired by the county to audit the agency.