Tulsa County Reserve Deputy Robert Bates
Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office

Officials in Tulsa, Okla., are investigating the “inadvertent” deadly shooting of a suspect. The Tulsa County reserve deputy who used his gun instead of his Taser is on administrative leave, according to CNN.

The shooting occurred Thursday during an undercover operation by the Tulsa County Violent Crimes Task Force. Officials say the suspect, Eric Courtney Harris, sold a gun to an undercover officer at a Dollar General store parking lot.


Harris, 44, ran away when the officers tried to arrest him. He allegedly reached toward his waistband, which reportedly concerned the officers. They ultimately forced him to the ground, but Harris continued to resist arrest.

That’s when the reserve officer, 73-year-old Robert Bates, fired one round from his weapon. Harris later died at a hospital. Police say Bates thought he had taken out his Taser instead of his gun.


Officials have not said whether Harris was armed at the time of his arrest. Police say Harris told the medics that he was under the influence of the street drug PCP.

Meanwhile, the shooting raised questions about whether Bates’ age may have contributed to the fatal error. The Tulsa World reported that Bates is a local insurance-company executive who received his reserve status in September 2008.


Bates confirmed to the newspaper that he fired the fatal shot that killed Harris. He added, “My attorney has advised me not to comment. As much as I would like to, I can’t.”

The medical examiner has not yet determined an official cause of death.

Read more at CNN and the Tulsa World.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter