In possibly the largest-ever settlement in an Oklahoma excessive force case, the estate of Eric Harris will receive $6 million for his fatal shooting by former reserve sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates.
The estate of Eric Harris, a Tulsa man gunned down in a botched gun sting in 2015 that got national headlines, has settled with the defendants in a civil case for $6 million. It is likely the largest settlement for an excessive force violation in Oklahoma’s history, The Frontier reports. Harris, 44, was selling a handgun to an undercover Tulsa County Sheriff’s deputy in a parking lot. When other undercover deputies arrived to arrest him, Harris fled before being subdued. The encounter was recorded via cameras purchased by reserve deputy Robert Bates, a millionaire insurance executive and friend of then-sheriff Stanley Glanz. Seconds after Harris was tackled, the footage shows Bates appear. While deputies pile on Harris, Bates exclaims “Taser! Taser!”before the sound of a single gunshot can be heard. “I shot him,” Bates says, “I’m sorry.”
Bates told investigators he believed he was holding a Taser when he shot Harris once under the right arm. Bates also said he believed Harris — who was unarmed — might have had a handgun tucked into his basketball shorts. In 2016 Bates was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to the maximum four years in prison. (He was released from prison last year about 2 ½ years early.) Glanz was forced to leave the sheriff’s office, and a parade of other top officials were fired or pushed to resign.