On April 2, 2015, a Tulsa, Oklahoma volunteer reserve deputy shot and killed an unarmed Black man. Yesterday (April 27), he was found guilty of second-degree manslaughter.
Robert Bates, a now-74-year-old White man, has maintained that he confused his gun for his Taser and did not mean to shoot Eric Harris. Harris, 44, was unarmed when officers attempted to catch him illegally selling a gun in a sting operation. He was already on the ground when Bates shot him in the back.
A 2009 investigation showed that Bates, who was an insurance agent by trade, received special treatment in the form of lowered training standards.
CNN reports that the all-White jury deliberated for less than three hours before deciding that he was guilty of “an act of culpable negligence.” The jury recommended that Bates serve the maximum possible sentence of four years. Sentencing is set for May 31.
Andre Harris, Eric Harris’ brother, said he was relieved following the verdict. “I thank God for the conviction,” he said. “I hope he’s taught a lesson that all lives matter.”