Tulsa police 'inadvertently' shoot suspect after mistaking gun for Taser


Video released Friday contains footage of Tulsa, Oklahoma, police shooting an unarmed man while he was being restrained.

The video shows Eric Harris, 44, fleeing on foot after he sold undercover officers a 9mm semiautomatic pistol and ammunition, according to the New York Daily News.

*Warning: This video is graphic.*

Reserve officer Robert Bates, who was assisting the other officers in chasing and capturing Harris, pulled out what he believed to be a Taser and aimed it at Harris. “Taser! Taser!” he yells, seemingly not realizing that he had, in fact, pulled out his pistol and aimed it at Harris.

A single shot rings.

“I shot him,” Bates says, dropping his gun onto the street. “I’m sorry.”

“He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I’m losing my breath,” Harris says, laying face down on the ground continuing to be subdued by fellow officers.

“F*ck your breath,” a fellow officer can be heard saying.

“You shouldn’t have f*cking ran!” another screams.

Harris was pronounced dead about an hour later.

In a statement released just after the April 2 incident, the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office wrote:

“During the rapidly evolving altercation, the reserve deputy had what he believed was his Taser from his tactical carrier and attempted to render aid in subduing the suspect… Believing he was utilizing a Taser … he inadvertently discharged his service weapon, firing one round which struck Harris.”

Bates, the reserve officer, has been placed on administrative leave. The incident is being investigated by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office and Oklahoma prosecutors are reviewing the case.

Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.

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