CRIME

Robert Bates, Volunteer Deputy Who Killed Eric Harris, Speaks Out

04/17/2015 12:09 pm ET | Updated Apr 17, 2015

The volunteer Tulsa County Sheriff's deputy who shot and killed an unarmed black man has apologized to the victim's family.

Robert Bates, 73, faces manslaughter charges after he allegedly mistook his revolver for a Taser and fatally shot Eric Harris in an undercover operation on April 2.

Bates said on the TODAY show that his alleged mistake "could happen to anyone."

"First and foremost let me apologize to the family of Eric Harris," Bates said on Friday. "I still can't believe it happened."

Bates showed TODAY's Matt Lauer that he kept his Taser on the left side of his body and his gun on his right hip. Asked how he could confuse his gun for the Taser, Bates said many law enforcement officers have made similar mistakes.

"I thought to myself after reading several cases, 'I don't understand how this can happen,'" Bates said. "You must believe me, it can happen to anyone."

Bates also refuted the Tulsa World's report that authorities pressured supervisors to falsify the deputy's training records. When they refused, the supervisors, who were granted anonymity, were transferred, according to the report.

"That is not correct," Bates told TODAY, saying that he's properly trained. "That is absolutely the truth. I have it in writing."

Bates is a wealthy insurance executive who reportedly contributed money to Sheriff Stanley Glanz's campaign.

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