Volunteer Who Mistook Gun for Taser|Pleads Not Guilty to Manslaughter

     TULSA (CN) – The white volunteer sheriff’s deputy who killed an unarmed black man after mistaking his own gun for a Taser pleaded not guilty to manslaughter on Monday.
     Insurance executive Robert C. Bates, 73, pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter involving culpable negligence before Tulsa County District Judge James Caputo. The judge set Bates’ trial for Feb. 8, 2015.
     In a body camera video released by Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, Bates is shown shooting Eric Courtney Harris, 44, on April 2.
     Harris is shown running away from deputies as they pull up to his vehicle. He is chased down, held to the ground and a single gunshot is heard.
     Bates immediately apologizes as Harris screams that he has been shot. An officer is heard saying, “Fuck your breath,” as Harris screams that he is losing his breath.
     The video link has been taken down from YouTube.
     If convicted, Bates faces up to four years in state prison.
      Judge Caputo refused to recuse himself, saying he saw no conflict of interest from his previous employment with the sheriff’s office, the Tulsa World reported today (Tuesday).
     Caputo noted that Bates had served as a witness in Tulsa County Court in previous cases, but not in his courtroom. Prosecutors did not object.
     “I’ve never shied away from a case yet, and I don’t intend to now,” Caputo said in court.
     Bates, flanked by his family and attorney Clark Brewster, said nothing as he entered the courthouse. Several supporters outside the courthouse carried signs stating “We Support Law Enforcement” and “We Support Bob Bates!”
     “It is our position that this was a mistake,” Brewster told reporters after the hearing. “It was an accident that should not have resulted in criminal charges, and that will be the basis of our defense.”
     Bates publicly apologized to Harris’ family within days of the shooting.
     “I thought to myself after reading several cases, ‘I don’t understand how this can happen,'” Bates said on April 17. “You must believe me, it can happen to anyone.”
     He said both of his weapons had a laser to indicate the target.
     “I saw the light and I squeezed the trigger, and then realized I dropped the gun,” he said. “This was not an intentional thing. I had no desire to ever take anyone’s life.”
     Bates denied he received preferential treatment from Sheriff Glanz because he had made donations to the Sheriff’s Office.
     Former Undersheriff Tim Albin resigned in April after records from a 2009 internal investigation alleged high-ranking deputies violated policy to help Bates in the reserve deputy program.

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