01:17 - Source: CNN
2015: Robert Bates speaks about shooting

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Robert Bates, 74, had been convicted of second-degree manslaughter

He said he meant to use his Taser stun gun but fired his revolver instead

CNN —  

A former Oklahoma deputy who said he meant to use his stun gun but instead fatally shot a suspect with his revolver received a four-year sentence Tuesday, CNN affiliate KTUL reported.

Robert Bates, 74, got the maximum possible sentence. A jury on April 27 found him guilty of second-degree manslaughter and recommended the four-year sentence.

At the time of the shooting, Bates was 73 and the CEO of an insurance company. He had worked for the Tulsa Police Department for a year in the 1960s and had been a reserve deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office since 2008.

Eric Courtney Harris.
Tulsa County Sheriff's Office
Eric Courtney Harris.

On April 2, 2015, he was providing backup and parked several blocks away from an undercover officer conducting a sting operation to try to catch Eric Courtney Harris illegally selling a gun.

Video of the deadly shooting

As deputies rolled up to arrest Harris that day, the suspect bolted and was pursued by officers, who caught him and took him to the ground. Bates got out of his vehicle and fired his pistol into Harris’ back.

“Oh! I shot him! I’m sorry!” Bates said, as captured in a video of the shooting.

Authorities said Bates thought he pulled out his Taser but “inadvertently” fired his gun.

The death of Harris is one of several nationally known cases in which a white law enforcement officer killed an unarmed black man. These cases have galvanized the public over tactics that police are trained to use.

How easy is it to confuse a gun with a Taser?