Officers Yelled Obscenities as Unarmed Black Man Was Dying From Gunshot (Video)
Officers yelled obscenities at Eric Courtney Harris as he lay dying after being shot by a reserve sheriff’s deputy in Tulsa, Okla., on April 2.
Reserve Deputy Robert Charles Bates, a 73-year-old insurance executive, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the killing, and the case has raised issues about the 130-member reserve deputy program in which he was participating. Some critics are questioning whether reserve deputies are properly trained and whether their monetary contributions to the Sheriff’s Office have resulted in unqualified people playing at being law enforcement officers. CNN reported Tuesday that Bates was “a frequent contributor to the Sheriff’s Office” and that, according to the office, he had undergone 300 hours of training. Other news reports indicate that full-time deputies have substantially more training.
None of the other officers involved in Harris’ arrest has been charged. In a video, officers are heard yelling, “Fuck your breath!” and “You shouldn’t have fucking ran!” after Harris exclaimed, “Oh, God. Oh, he shot me. I didn’t do shit!”
The Tulsa World reported on Monday that Bates—who was named Tulsa’s top reserve deputy in 2011—had donated thousands of dollars’ worth of vehicles, guns, and stun guns since he became a reserve deputy seven years ago. “There are lots of wealthy people in the reserve program,” [Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon] Clark told the newspaper. “Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all.”
Harris’s family released a statement on Sunday. “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 Tulsa Sheriff’s Office] to accept gifts from a wealthy citizen who wants to be [a] ‘pay to play’ cop.”
See video of the incident here (New York Daily News via YouTube):
— Posted by Donald Kaufman.Wait, before you go…
If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface. We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.
Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.Support Truthdig