Tulsa County prosecutor seeks outside probe of sheriff's office

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 24, 2015 6:13 PM

By Heide Brandes

(Reuters) - Tulsa County's district attorney said on Friday he has contacted outside agencies about investigating the sheriff's office whose reserve deputy says he fatally shot a suspect after mistaking his handgun for a Taser during an arrest.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said new information his office has received is worthy of further investigation beyond the manslaughter case he brought against Tulsa County reserve deputy Robert Bates, 73, in the April 2 fatal shooting of Eric Harris.

"I am highly concerned about recent allegations that have surfaced and I have been in contact with independent law enforcement agencies regarding further investigation into these matters," Kunzweiler said in a news release.

Kunzweiler did not say what new information he had received and would not comment further on any investigation.

Bates' training and his personal ties to Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz have been questioned since the shooting.

Harris' death is one in a series of shootings that have raised questions about police use of force around the country, particularly against minorities. Bates is white and Harris was black.

The Tulsa World newspaper published on Friday a sheriff's department memo from a 2009 internal investigation that concluded the training of Bates was incomplete and he had received special treatment.

Major Shannon Clark, the office's spokesman, said on Friday the office had not seen the memo published by Tulsa World and had not provided it to the newspaper. Reuters has not independently verified its authenticity.

The memo seemed to contradict Glanz's statements at a Monday news conference that the investigation concluded Bates received no special treatment.

Attorneys representing the Harris family on Friday called for Glanz's immediate resignation.

"The 2009 internal affairs report, which has been made public, confirms what we have been saying for weeks," the Harris family attorneys said. "That is, Bob Bates was given preferential treatment, was not adequately trained and TCSO knew he posed an enhanced risk to the public."Bates has pleaded not guilty. His attorney, Corbin Brewster, said on Friday in a written statement to Reuters that Bates had received hundreds of hours of training and experience since 2009 and the review showed there was no sheriff's office coverup.

"No one involved in the Harris operation has raised any concern that Mr. Bates was unqualified or undertrained for the containment position he was assigned," Brewster said.

(Reporting by Heide Brandes in Hasty, Arkansas; Editing by David Bailey and Lisa Lambert)