Tulsa County undersheriff resigns after memo, fatal shooting

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Posted: Apr 27, 2015 6:12 PM
Tulsa County undersheriff resigns after memo, fatal shooting

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The second-ranking official in the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office resigned Monday after a leaked internal investigation showed he pressured subordinates to ignore the training deficiencies of a volunteer deputy now charged in the fatal shooting of a restrained man during a sting operation.

Sheriff Stanley Glanz didn't specify why Undersheriff Tim Albin stepped down but said departmental reorganization was necessary following the April 2 shooting by reserve deputy Robert Bates, who says he mistook his handgun for a stun gun.

"Given the gravity of the current situation and the need to go a different direction with our leadership and management he agrees with me that it is time for a change," Glanz said of Albin in a statement released by the sheriff's office. It was the first time in the more than three weeks since the shooting that the sheriff publicly acknowledged potential problems with the department's operations.

Albin, a 26-year veteran of the office, declined to comment to The Associated Press when reached on his cellphone Monday. Agency spokesman Shannon Clark said Albin's last day is Friday.

A 2009 special investigation found that Albin was, at a minimum, aware that Bates was inadequately trained but pressured officers in the department to look the other way.

After the internal report was leaked to the media last week, Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler raised the possibility of an outside investigation into sheriff's office, though he didn't elaborate. His office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Monday they weren't doing an investigation, and the local federal Department of Justice office didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. A spokesman for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt said that office "continues to monitor and assess what appropriate measures, if any, are warranted."

The sheriff's office had initially denied the report's existence. But, after its release Friday, an attorney for the sheriff's office said no action was taken as a result of the investigation but that it demonstrated the office's willingness to review alleged policy violations. The sheriff's office is now investigating how the document was leaked.

The report showed some deputies had claimed Albin gave preferential treatment to Bates, a close friend of the sheriff's, and intimidated those who raised concerns. The former coordinator of the reserve deputy program, Sgt. Randy Chapman, told the investigator that Albin chastised him after he questioned Bates' performance.

Chapman is quoted in the report as telling the investigator that Albin said: "You need to stop messing with (Bates) because he does a lot of good for the County." Chapman declined to talk about the memo when contacted last week by The Associated Press and also declined Monday after Albin's resignation.

"I've been told to stay out of it," Chapman said.

According to the report, Chapman complained to Albin on one occasion that Bates was driving a personal car with police equipment prior to having the requisite training, Albin told him: "This is a s--- sandwich and you will just have to eat it but not acquire a taste for it." Clark did not respond Monday to an email with questions about whether Glanz knew about the allegations of preferential treatment.

A little more than five years later, 44-year-old Eric Harris was shot while on the ground in custody after running from deputies following a sting operation. The 73-year-old Bates has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree manslaughter. Bates is white and Harris was black, but the victim's brother has said he doesn't believe race played a role in the shooting.

Attorneys for Harris' family have repeatedly called on Glanz and Albin to resign.

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Associated Press writer Allen Reed in Little Rock, Arkansas, contributed to this report.