Robert Bates, the 73-year-old Tulsa volunteer reserve deputy who was charged with manslaughter for shooting Eric Harris in early April, is rejecting reports that his training records were falsified.
Speaking to Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” this morning, Bates responded to a Tulsa World report that officials within the Tulsa Sheriff’s Office ordered the falsification of records to show that Bates was authorized to carry a firearm and that he received training that he never completed. “That is not correct. I have it in writing,” Bates said, referring to his training records. The Sheriff’s Office has said Bates was fully trained but cannot find the paperwork with those firearms certifications.
On Thursday the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona contradicted a statement Bates made in an initial report after Harris’ death on April 2 claiming that he’d received “active shooter training.” The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office said such training is only available to members of the local force, the Arizona Republic reported.
Bates, a wealthy white man who made his fortune in the insurance business, killed Harris, a black man, during an undercover operation conducted by the Sheriff’s Violent Crimes Task Force.
On Friday Bates apologized to the Harris family and said that he still couldn’t believe that he’d killed a man. He ranked it as the second worst event in his life after being diagnosed with cancer. “I thought to myself after reading several cases, ‘I don’t understand how this can happen,’” Bates said on “Today.”“You must believe me, it can happen to anyone.”