TULSA, Okla.—Prosecutors charged a reserve sheriff’s deputy with manslaughter Monday in the death of a man who was fatally shot as he lay on the ground at the officer’s feet.
Tulsa County prosecutors filed a second-degree manslaughter charge against 73-year-old Robert Bates.
A police investigator has said Bates, who is white, thought he drew a stun gun, not his handgun, when he fired at 44-year-old Eric Harris, who was black, in the April 2 incident.
Bates is charged with second-degree manslaughter “involving culpable negligence,” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in a statement.
Oklahoma law defines culpable negligence as “the omission to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the lack of the usual ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions,” Kunzweiler said.
A video of the incident shot by deputies with sunglass cameras and released Friday at the request of the victim’s family, shows a deputy chase and tackle Harris, whom they said tried to sell an illegal gun to an undercover officer.
As the deputy subdues Harris on the ground, a gunshot rings out and a man says: “Oh, I shot him. I’m sorry.”
Harris was treated by medics at the scene and died in a Tulsa hospital.
A telephone message left Monday with Bates’ attorney, Scott Woods, was not immediately returned.