POLITICS
09/30/2015 06:20 pm ET Updated Dec 19, 2016

Oklahoma Sheriff Indicted After Investigation Into Fatal Shooting Of Unarmed Black Man

The grand jury also recommended he be removed from office.

A grand jury has indicted a Tulsa County, Oklahoma, sheriff whose office came under intense national scrutiny following the fatal shooting of an unarmed and restrained man by a volunteer deputy who mistook his hand gun for a stun gun.

Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz was indicted Wednesday on two misdemeanor criminal counts. One count for refusing to release an internal report related to an investigation into Robert Bates, the former reserve deputy and longtime friend of Glanz who accidentally fired a single fatal shot into Eric Harris on April 2. The second, unrelated to the Harris killing, was for willful violation of the law over a monthly stipend he received for using his personal vehicle.

The grand jury also recommended that the sheriff be removed from office.

Glanz’s attorney, Scott Wood, told multiple news outlets that the sheriff intends to resign.

Harris, 44, had been targeted in a police sting operation after he allegedly sold a semi-automatic pistol and ammunition to an undercover cop. When officers tried to arrest Harris, he fled, and the sheriff’s office said he reached for his waistband. 

In a widely circulated video of the incident, Harris, who is black and was unarmed, is seen running from police before being knocked down and restrained on the ground. Moments later, Bates, 73, who is white and a former insurance executive volunteering in the undercover operation, is heard shouting “Taser, Taser,” before firing his gun at Harris.

“I shot him,” Bates immediately exclaimed. “I’m sorry.”

According to police, Bates was attempting to assist deputies in apprehending Harris. The former reserve officer reached for his Taser, but mistakenly grabbed his gun and fired before recognizing his error.

Toward the end of the brief video, Harris cries out, “He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I’m losing my breath.”

“Fuck your breath. Shut the fuck up,” another officer shouts back in response.

Later, Harris was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

Bates was charged with second-degree manslaughter involving “culpable negligence.” He has pleaded not guilty.

Two other deputies involved in the incident were reassigned to unspecified duties after receiving threats against them and their families, Glanz announced in an April news conference. Unlike Bates, neither officer was charged with a crime.

The shooting sparked outrage and calls for an investigation into the sheriff’s office, led by We The People, an Oklahoma group advocating for law enforcement reform. The group’s petition seeking Glanz’s removal from office set in motion the convening of the grand jury and, ultimately, the indictment of Glanz. 

According to court documents, the grand jury met for a total of 20 days, interviewed 32 witnesses and analyzed 164 exhibits.

The sheriff’s office remains under investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. The grand jury, in its report, noted it was aware of the investigation and “is supportive of its continuation.”

The sheriff’s office and Glanz’s attorney did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

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