Oklahoma County Settles Suit Over Killing of Unarmed Black Man for $6M

An Oklahoma county can pay $6 millidirectly to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white former sheriff’s reserve deputy, in line with court documents filed on March 9.

Tulsa County commissioners on Feb. 26 approved the agreementwith the estate of Eric Harris, who was fatally shot in a Tulsa street by ex-volunteer deputy Robert Bates during an illegal gun sales sting. Harris was alin a positionbeing restrained by deputies when Bates shot Harris. a part of the incident was captured on a camera mounted in a couple of a deputy’s glasses.


The 76-year-old Bates, who said he confused his stun gun together with his handgun when he shot Harris in April 2015, was convicted of second-degree manslaughter. He was released in October after serving not up to partof his four-year sentence. Bates asked a state appeals court this week to rehear an appeal he lost last month.

“this couldsfinisha multitudeage that neverybody gets away with it,” said Harris’ brother, Andre Harris, in an interview. “i am hoping this (settlement) is a deterrent.”

Guy Fortney, an attorney for Bates, didn’t immediately return a multitudeage looking forcomment at the settlement.

Sheriff Vic Regalado said in a press release he believes the agreement“will permitthe approach to healing to continue for the Harris family, the citizens of Tulsa County and the exertionsing women and men of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.”

Harris family attorney Dan Smolen said Harris’ legacy brings hope for “a fewmeasure of justice and accountability” when a law officer “violates the bests and takes the lifetime of an African-American citizen.”

“Eric’s death, and the professionalfound government corruption uncovered within the wake of his death, served as a major warning cinterested in Tulsa,” Smolen said.


The Harris shooting drew thousands of county residents to petition for a grand jury to speculateigate allegations that Bates was unqualified to operate a deputy but kept at the force as a result of his friendship with indicted ex-Sheriff Stanley Glanz.

Glanz, a fishing buddy of Bates, was indicted in September 2015, accused of failing to release a 200nineinternal report that raised serious concerns about Bates’ skillto do its job.

The memo, which was leaked to reporters within the weeks after Harris was killed, alleged superiors knew Bates did not have enough training but pressured others to seem the opposite direction as a result of the rich insurance executive‘s relationship with the sheriff and closeties to the agency, which come withd donating thousands of greenbacks in cash, carsand gear to the dep..

Glanz eventually pleaded no contest in 2016 to a charge of refemployingto pertype official duty for not freeingthe two00ninetraining memo on Bates and was sentenced to a year of prisontime, which was suspended.

Harris’ death also uncovered a law enforcement agency in disarray.

Consultants hired by the county issued a scathing 238-page report found thon the sheriff’s office suffered from a “system-wide failure of leadership and supervision” and said the agency were in a “perceptible decline” for greater than a decade.

Shortcomings in its reserve deputy program were simplyprobably the most-visible symptomsof hassleinside the agency, it said.

at the same time asAndre Harris told the AP he was glad for a suitetlement, he doubted whether it maytruly improve long-simmering tensions between black residents in Tulsa and the police. Those date to a 1921 race riot by which hundreds of black residents were killed and thousands more injured.

“it isunhappyto mention, but this (settlement) ain’t going to save youthis,” he said. “it mayslow it down, but i don’t believe the connection between law enforcement and African-Americans goes to head afar more than a $6 million settlement.”