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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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State Rests in Volunteer Deputy’s Trial

TULSA (CN) - The prosecution rested Monday in the manslaughter trial of former volunteer Tulsa County sheriff's deputy Robert Bates, and jurors handled a Taser and revolver as they consider Bates' claim he accidentally shot an unarmed black man instead of Tasering him.

Bates, 73, a white insurance executive, faces up to four years in prison if convicted of second-degree manslaughter. He is shown in a body camera video shooting an restrained Eric Courtney Harris, 44, during a gun sale sting and arrest last year.

Bates has repeatedly said he mistook his gun for his Taser, screaming "Taser" before firing and immediately apologizing as Harris screamed he had been shot.

Prosecutors told jurors that Bates' mistaking his gun for his Taser amounts to culpable negligence, according to the Tulsa World newspaper.

Bates' attorney Clark Brewster, with Brewster & De Angelis in Tulsa, told jurors the Taser and revolver Bates was carrying were very similar in grip and weight and both had laser sights.

Prosecutor Kevin Gray disagreed, pointing out that the Taser must be activated with the flip of a switch before being fired, while the gun requires only the pull of a trigger.

State District Judge William Musseman rejected a defense motion to dismiss after the prosecution rested, disagreeing with the claim that prosecutors had failed to present enough evidence that the gunshot had killed Harris.

The defense called as their first witness Dr. Charles Morgan, a psychologist who studies human cognitive errors during stressful situations. He testified that it would be "unusual" for no mistakes to occur in situations such as a gun sting where the suspect may be armed and is fleeing.

Morgan testified that highly trained people can make mistakes when under high stress due to adrenaline blocking reflective thinking and leaving reflexive actions to take place.

On cross-examination, Morgan testified that he will be paid $8,000 by Bates for his testimony.

Gray pointed out that Morgan's usual research subjects are military personnel and that his research is not focused on local law enforcement agencies or volunteer officers, according to the Tulsa World.

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