A 74-year-old white volunteer cop has received the maximum sentence for killing an unarmed black man.
A Tulsa County judge sentenced Robert Bates to four years in prison Tuesday for fatally shooting Eric Harris in April of 2015. Bates, who is white, was serving as a volunteer deputy during an illegal gun sales sting, Tulsa World reports. During the sting, Harris was unarmed and being held down when Bates fatally shot him.
Bates, who is a former cop, said he accidentally shot the man because he confused his taser and his gun. He was convicted of second degree-manslaughter and the jury recommended a maximum sentence of four years in prison, the Associated Press reports.
An internal memo later revealed that Bates may have been allowed on the sting operation because of his donations to the sheriff’s office.
“I’ll forgive Mr. Bates, but there are still consequences for your actions,” said Adrian Fraley, Harris’ son.
Bates had been a reserve deputy for several years — these volunteers still receive training like regular deputies.
Harris’ family said they do not believe race was a factor. The defense in the case is confident the verdict will be overturned.
“I’m confident we’ll get a new audience through the appellate courts, and you’ll be interviewing me about the reversal,” Bates’ attorney Clark Brewster told reporters.
The incident was caught on video.
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