OK County to Pay $6 Million for Killing of Eric Harris

By MCNS Staff

Eric Harris

Eric Harris

Tulsa County Oklahoma officials settled a civil rights lawsuit this past Friday by agreeing to pay $6 million to the estate of Eric Courtney Harris, an unarmed 44-year old black man who was shot and killed in 2015 by a wealthy 73-year old white man who was allowed to accompany county officials on a sting operation.

Tulsa County officers invited 73-year-old Reserve Deputy Robert Bates to accompany them on a gun sting operation that was organized to arrest Harris. Harris was chased down and subdued by officers before Bates, a wealthy insurance executive shot Harris in the armpit.

Bates claimed that he mistook his gun for his Taser and was sentenced to four years in prison for second-degree manslaughter. However, Bates was imprisoned for 497 days and released in 2016.

Bates’ fishing partner, Tulsa County Sherriff Stanley Glanz deputized Bates as a reserve officer. Bates donated vehicles and equipment to the Sherriff’s Department and donated money to Glanz’s political campaigns. He also served as campaign manager when Glanz’s ran for Sherrif in 2012. However, Glanz eventually resigned from office after he was charged with misdemeanor crimes in another later investigation.

The Harris family lawsuit charged Bates, Glanz, and four other officers for excessive force and civil rights violations. The civil suit alleged that Glanz “turned a blind eye to these dangers … to allow his friend and financial benefactor to ‘play cop’ in the streets of Tulsa County.” Additionally, it charges that Bates was improperly trained.

After Eric Harris was killed, an internal investigation also located records that showed Bates’ training records were falsified and that the County also pressured investigators to deem the use of force “justifiable.”

The court award is to be paid out over three years for a total award of $6.6 million, according to the Tulsa World.

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