Volunteer Deputy Who Killed Unarmed Black Man Sentenced to Four Years in Prison

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 01, 2016

Just over a month after a jury found him guilty of killing Eric Harris, an unarmed Black man, former Tulsa County Reserve Sheriff’s Deputy Robert Bates has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Tulsa World reports that yesterday (May 31), District Judge William Musseman concluded a four-hour hearing by following the jury’s sentencing recommendation of four years for the second-degree manslaughter conviction. It is the maximum punishment allowed for the charge.

Robert Bates killed Harris on April 2, 2015, while serving as a volunteer reserve deputy. Bates, a now-74-year-old White man, says he thought he was using his Taser when he shot the 44-year-old man in the back. Though Harris was being targeted for illegal gun sales, he was unarmed when he was apprehended and killed.

“[Bates] found himself in that position because of his own decisions,” Musseman said at the sentencing, adding that the septuagenarian asked to join the task force’s undercover operation the night before the shooting.

Bates attorney, Clark Brewster, says he will file an appeal.