Robert Bates; Eric Harris
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Tulsa County, Okla., Reserve Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Bates, who fatally shot an unarmed black suspect, was sentenced to four years in prison Tuesday.

The 73-year-old volunteer sheriff’s deputy maintained that he had been reaching for his Taser during an April 2015 undercover sting operation when he accidentally grabbed his gun and shot Eric Harris as he was running away, KTUL reports.


Although Bates’ attorneys attempted to delay sentencing, a jury recommended that Bates receive the maximum sentence, four years, after he was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter.

A statement from the Harris family read: “We do not believe that it is reasonable for a man who claims to have all the necessary training to mistake a pistol for a Taser. We do not believe it is reasonable for a 73-year-old insurance executive to be involved in a dangerous undercover sting operation. … We do not believe it is reasonable—or responsible—for [the sheriff’s office] to accept gifts from a wealthy citizen who wants to be [a] ‘pay to play’ cop,” the Los Angeles Times reports.


After Harris’ shooting, it was learned that before Bates became a reserve deputy with the department, the insurance executive donated thousands of dollars in cash, vehicles and equipment.

Bates’ attorneys are expected to appeal the decision, KTUL reports.

Read more at KTUL and the Los Angeles Times.

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