Tulsa sheriff spokesman says other deputies didn't hear shot

AP News
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Posted: Apr 15, 2015 2:09 PM
Tulsa sheriff spokesman says other deputies didn't hear shot

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A sheriff's deputy who can be heard in a video cursing at a suspect who later died was unaware that a volunteer deputy had shot the man, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office said.

Spokesman Shannon Clark told the Wall Street Journal that the office would evaluate the April 2 incident that led to the death of 44-year-old Eric Harris.

In the video of Harris' arrest that was captured by a camera in a deputy's sunglasses, one deputy can be seen restraining Harris by pressing a knee to his head. Another deputy is heard cursing when Harris complains that he has been shot and cannot breathe.

Clark said both deputies have said they didn't realize Harris had been shot. Clark said any administrative action against the deputies would be conducted within the department.

Clark said in a text message to The Associated Press Wednesday morning that the county would not comment further on the two deputies and the possibility of disciplinary action against them. Messages seeking comment left for Undersheriff Tim Albin on the deputies' actions were not returned Wednesday.

The video begins with one deputy chasing and tackling Harris. Another is heard telling Harris, "I need you to roll on your stomach." At about the same time, a woman is heard in the background saying, "Stop fighting."

While the deputy is subduing Harris on the ground, a gunshot rings out and reservist Robert Bates says, "Oh, I shot him. I'm sorry." Authorities said Bates meant to use his stun gun, not his handgun.

Harris was treated by medics at the scene and died in a Tulsa hospital.

Bates, 73, was charged Monday with manslaughter in the shooting death of Harris, who authorities say had tried to sell illegal guns to an undercover officer. Bates surrendered to the Tulsa County Jail on Tuesday. He was booked and released after posting $25,000 bond.

Dozens of people attending a protest in Tulsa late Tuesday urged officials to take action against the deputies. Another rally was planned Friday evening, according to organizer Marq Lewis, who called for the two deputies to be fired and urged greater transparency from authorities.

"It's been quiet," Lewis said in an interview. "Even the sheriff doesn't even want to go on camera. I mean, it's like, you're an elected official. You answer to the people, buddy."

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Allen Reed contributed to this report from Little Rock, Arkansas.