An Oklahoma sheriff was indicted on two misdemeanors Wednesday as part of an investigation into his office regarding the shooting of an unarmed man caught on video. Accusing the sheriff of stalling the investigation by refusing to release documents concerning the deputy who fatally shot the restrained man, a grand jury also recommended that the sheriff be removed from office. According to the sheriff’s attorney, he plans to resign at a hearing in November.
At 10 a.m. on April 2, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) Violent Crimes Task Force attempted a sting operation to catch Eric Harris selling a 9mm semiautomatic pistol to an undercover cop on video. Surveillance footage revealed Harris meeting the undercover officer in a parking lot and retrieving a gun from his backpack. Harris placed the gun on the floor of the vehicle before noticing officers arriving to arrest him. Instead of complying, Harris fled on foot with officers in pursuit.
Video from a deputy’s sunglass camera shows a deputy exiting his patrol car and tackling Harris to the ground. As the officers attempt to restrain Harris, 73-year-old reserve sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates can be heard off-camera shouting, “Taser! Taser!”
Instead of firing his Taser at Harris who was being held down by deputies, Bates fired a single bullet from his gun. After shooting the restrained man, Bates immediately dropped his gun while exclaiming, “Oh! I shot him. I’m sorry.”
Pressing his knee against the back of Harris’ head, Deputy Michael Huckeby began shouting obscenities at the dying man instead of giving him immediate medical attention. As Harris began losing blood, he told officers that he had been shot and was losing his breath. The deputies responded by ordering him to shut up and cuffing his hands behind his back.
After the TCSO defended Bates’ mistake and declared that he had not committed a crime, Harris’ family accused Sheriff Stanley Glanz of protecting his friend. Bates, who operated Commercial Insurance Brokers LLC, served as chairman of the Re-elect Sheriff Glanz Committee in 2012 and donated $2,500 to Glanz’s campaign that year. Although Glanz and Bates have been friends for roughly 50 years, and Bates had been his insurance agent, Glanz insisted that he had not given Bates preferential treatment.
On April 13, prosecutors charged Bates with second-degree manslaughter involving culpable negligence. On Wednesday, a grand jury indicted Sheriff Glanz on two misdemeanors while recommending his removal from office. Accusing Glanz of refusing to perform his official duties, the grand jury found that the sheriff had stalled the investigation of his long-time friend by refusing to hand over documents concerning Bates and the fatal shooting. Glanz was also accused of willful violation of the law in an unrelated incident involving a stipend he received for a vehicle.
On Wednesday, Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Justin Green announced that Deputy Huckeby submitted his resignation effective Thursday. A few hours later, an attorney for Sheriff Glanz announced that Glanz plans to resign before a November 10 hearing on the indictments.