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article imageKilling of Eric Harris: Okla deputy says he mistook gun for Taser

By Megan Hamilton     Apr 13, 2015 in Crime
Tulsa - A shocking video released by an Oklahoma sheriff's department shows an unarmed black man, Eric Harris, on the ground with an officer kneeling on his head.
That, however isn't the most shocking part of the video.
The video shows Harris running from police as they exit their cars to give chase. When the officers catch up with him and bring him to the ground, one officer can be heard saying the word "Taser" twice, before firing one shot at Harris, ThinkProgress reports.
The shot was allegedly fired by Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, 73, and Harris was pronounced dead an hour later.
The shooting does indeed appear to be a tragic accident, and Bates can be heard saying "Oh! I shot him. I'm sorry," Think Progress notes.
Two days later, Bates told the Tulsa World that he thought he was holding a Taser when he fired his weapon, The Washington Post reports.
In the video, released Friday,nine days after the shooting, a panicking Harris realizes he's been shot.
"He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh, my god, I'm losing my breath," he yells. An officer places a knee on Harris's head as he lay bleeding.
"F--k your breath," an officer says callously. "Shut the f--k up!"
"You shouldn't have f--king ran!" another deputy screams.
Harris apparently fled from officers when they were trying to arrest him for selling a 9 mm. semiautomatic pistol and ammunition to undercover police, The New York Daily News reports, adding that he had apparently done time for assault and battery on an officer.
Despite the gunshot and Bates's admission, Sheriff's Captain Billy McKelvey claimed the arresting officers were unaware that the man had been shot, adding that the men called paramedics and firefighters, and rendered aid once they realized it.
Bates, who is also a Tulsa insurance company executive, was working undercover as a member of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office Violent Crimes Task Force. He has been trained in "homicide investigation, meth lab identification and decontamination," Tulsa World reported, per The Washington Post.
Think Progress reports that Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clark said that the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office investigation concluded that Bates did not commit a crime and no policy violations occurred, Think Progress reports.
Scores of people have taken to Twitter to express sadness and outrage over Harris's death, and the hashtag #Eric Harris is trending on the social media.
Len Cortiggiano:
"Even if you're apprehended in the commission of a crime, that doesn't mean the cops can murder you."
Mistress Pie:
#EricHarris cried "Oh my god, I'm losing my breath." An officer says "F*ck your breath." To a dying man? Pure evil.
Bri:
"I will not keep quiet ... an officer told a dying man "f--k your breath."
Olivia:
RIP #EricHarris, another tragic and despicable cause of death. This has gone on for far too long. It's time something is done..."
Bates, who is wealthy, has donated numerous vehicles, guns, and stun guns to the Sheriff's Office since becoming a reserve deputy in 2008, said Maj. Shannon Clark, Tulsa World reports. Apparently, he's not alone, there are several other wealthy donors among the agency's 130 reserve deputies.
"There are lots of wealthy people in the reserve program," he said. "Many of them make donations of items. That's not unusual at all."
According to The New York Daily News, Sgt. Dave Walker said that police don't plan to investigate the incident unless asked to do so by the sheriff's office, and so far the office hasn't requested that.
Note: This is the video of the incident. It contains graphic images.
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