Ex-Tulsa Sheriff Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor

July 15, 2016
By David Lee
TULSA, Okla. (CN) – Former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz pleaded guilty and no contest Friday to misdemeanor charges relating to the controversial shooting death of Eric Harris that led to his resignation last year.
Glanz pleaded no contest to one count of refusal to perform an official duty and guilty to one count of willful violation of the law. He immediately received a one-year suspended sentence, the Tulsa World newspaper reported.
Glanz did not respond to reporters’ questions as he exited the courtroom after the hearing. He was accompanied by his wife, Deborah Glanz.
Glanz resigned last September after a grand jury issued the indictments and returned ouster proceedings against him. The refusal to perform an official duty charge related to Glanz failing to timely release a 2009 report into whether former volunteer reserve deputy Robert C. Bates was given favorable treatment.
A wealthy, white insurance executive, Bates was convicted of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced to four years in state prison for mistaking his gun for his Taser and shooting Harris, a restrained black man, to death in a traffic stop during an illegal gun sale sting.
Bates had donated several vehicles, guns and stun guns since he became a reserve deputy in 2008.
A released body camera video showed Harris running away from deputies as they pulled up to his vehicle. He was chased down, held to the ground and a single gunshot is heard.
Bates can be heard apologizing as Harris screamed that he has been shot.
As Harris screamed that he couldn’t breathe, an officer said, “Fuck your breath.”
Three of Bates’ supervisors were transferred after they refused to sign papers that he had received state-required training, the Tulsa World reported. The unidentified deputies were ordered to falsify Bates’ training records to give him credit for field training he never took, and for firearms certifications he should not have received, multiple anonymous sources told the newspaper.
The willful violation of law count accused Glanz of taking a $600 monthly stipend for county travel while using county-owned vehicles for such travel.

From Courthouse News.

Tulsa Sheriff’s Volunteer Gets 4 Years for Killing

June 1, 2016
By David Lee
TULSA (CN) — The 74-year-old white Tulsa County sheriff’s volunteer who shot a restrained black man to death after mistaking his gun for his Taser was sentenced Tuesday to four years in prison.
Tulsa County Judge William Musseman gave Robert Bates the maximum sentence for second-degree manslaughter during the four-hour hearing. The jury recommended a four-year sentence when it convicted Bates on April 27.
A wealthy insurance executive, Bates’ donations of money, equipment and time to former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz’s office was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union as a “buy a badge” program that allowed the sheriff’s “favored friends and wealthy donors” to carry guns and badges with less training and experience than professional deputies. The shooting came in the midst of several high-profile shootings of unarmed black men by white police officers.
Bates is shown in a body camera video shooting a restrained Eric Harris, 44, during a gun-sale sting and arrest last year.
Bates has steadfastly maintained he mistook his gun for his Taser. He screamed “Taser!” before firing and immediately apologized as Harris screamed that he had been shot.
Dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit and flanked by two sheriff’s deputies, Bates blew a kiss to his family as he walked down a hallway into the courtroom.
Bates’ attorney, Clark Brewster with Brewster & De Angelis in Tulsa, asked the judge to sentence Bates to probation, based on 40 years of data he compiled in a sentencing memo. Musseman was not persuaded, calling the data in the report “misleading” and saying there is no other case like Bates’.
The judge denied a defense motion to consider a sentence modification after Bates spends a year in prison, based on his poor health. He also rejected Brewster’s attempt to call a private investigator to testify about conversations he had with three jurors about possible confusion involving Bates’ sentence.
Brewster told reporters he will appeal, based on the standard of care of law enforcement not being debated during trial, and incomplete jury instructions.
“I have never seen a case like it, nor has there been one,” Brewster said. “All of the cases involving police operations require some testimony as to whether it was a departure from that standard of care. The judge did not hold the prosecution to that. And I really believe that it will result in a reversal.”
Bates’ family lashed out at the media after sentencing. His wife, Charlotte Bates, said her husband “is a wonderful pillar of this community.” She begged the judge for probation during her testimony.
“It was a tragic accident, which we are all scarred for life because this man died,” she told reporters. “And to put my husband in prison for four years – my husband will die – and I want all of you to know you’re part of the responsibility for that.”
Bates’ daughter told reporters: “I hope you all feel good about yourselves.”
The jury was not swayed by defense testimony during trial that Harris died from a heart attack, not a gunshot.
A physician testified for the defense that Harris had a heart attack caused by elevated adrenaline and a “very high level” of methamphetamine in his body.
The fallout from Harris’ death has been far-reaching.
Sheriff Glanz resigned in September after a grand jury recommended his suspension, returned ouster proceedings and two misdemeanor criminal indictments.
One indictment alleged that Glanz failed to timely release a 2009 report on whether Bates was given favorable treatment because of his donations.

From Courthouse News.

No Bail for Jailed Volunteer Deputy

May 4, 2016
By David Lee
TULSA (CN) — The former Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy convicted of manslaughter for firing his gun instead of his Taser at an unarmed and restrained black man was denied bail Tuesday, and his attorney angrily lashed out at the victim’s “punk” attorney.
Tulsa County Judge William Musseman agreed with prosecutors that he has no discretion to set bail for Robert Bates, 73, as state law prohibits bail on appeal for defendants convicted of a felony while in possession of a firearm.
In denying bail, Musseman said it is not his job to “analyze legislator wisdom.” He was not persuaded by defense arguments that Bates was acting as a law enforcement officer when he shot and killed Eric Harris, but agreed with prosecutors that there is no exception for defendants acting as law enforcement.
Bates was free on $25,000 bail before and during his trial. The jury convicted him last Wednesday, April 27, of second-degree manslaughter, and recommended the maximum punishment of four years in state prison.
Bates, who will be sentenced on May 31, testified for the first time during the bail hearing. Dressed in a bright orange jail jumpsuit, Bates slowly walked to and from the witness stand.
His attorney, Clark Brewster with Brewster & De Angelis in Tulsa, said his client is not a threat to the community and that staying in jail would worsen his health.
Bates testified that he has been diagnosed with a heart condition, sleep apnea, had both knees replaced and was on several medications. He said he was denied clothing when he was temporarily held on suicide watch, and that he was not sure what he had said or done to warrant that action.
After the hearing, Brewster angrily reacted to reporters’ questions about the ruling, as he waited for an elevator.
“Do you all feel safer with Bob Bates in jail?” Brewster asked. “I hope you feel really good about it. That’s all I have to say about it.”
Brewster then pointed his finger at Harris family attorney Dan Smolen, with Smolen Smolen & Roytman in Tulsa, and said, “This punk here is your protector.” An unidentified woman told Brewster to “sleep well tonight” as the elevator doors closed.
Smolen answered the question by telling reporters that he does indeed feel safer with Bates in jail.
Jurors deliberated for three hours before convicting Bates. They were not swayed by hours of defense expert witness testimony that Harris, 44, died of a heart attack instead of a gunshot. A video shot by a police bodycam shows Bates shooting a restrained Harris during a gun-sale sting and arrest last year.

From Courthouse News.

Manslaughter Verdict for Volunteer Tulsa Deputy

April 27, 2016
By David Lee
TULSA, Okla. (CN) – An Oklahoma jury deliberated for three hours before convicting a white former volunteer sheriff’s deputy of manslaughter Wednesday night in the shooting death of a restrained black man during an arrest.
The Tulsa County jury found insurance executive Robert Bates, 73, guilty of second-degree manslaughter. It recommended he serve four years in state prison, the maximum punishment they could recommend.
Bates’ attorney, Clark Brewster with Brewster & De Angelis in Tulsa, looked perplexed when the verdict was read. Sheriff’s deputies immediately cuffed Bates and led him out of the courtroom, the Tulsa World newspaper reported.
The jury was apparently not swayed by hours of defense expert witness testimony that Eric Harris, 44, died of a heart attack instead of a gunshot. Bates is shown in a body camera video shooting a restrained Harris during a gun-sale sting and arrest last year.
Bates has steadfastly said he mistook his gun for his Taser, screaming, “Taser!” before firing and immediately apologizing as Harris screamed that he had been shot.
During closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney John David Luton told jurors Harris deserved to be chased, taken down and arrested, but he “didn’t deserve to be gunned down and killed.”
Luton told jurors not to be swayed by Bates’ medical expert testimony that the gunshot did not kill Harris and to use common sense. He cited testimony of the two physicians who actually touched Harris who agreed he died from blood loss.
“Do we need an expert to tell us he died from a gunshot wound?” Luton asked. “Ridiculous.”
Brewster reminded jurors of Harris’ criminal history, mentioning previous armed robbery convictions, a prison escape and battery of a law enforcement officer in describing the danger he posed to officers.
“Incidentally, I didn’t write his resume,” he said. “He wrote his resume.”
Brewster repeated that the gunshot did not kill Harris, that he was shot moments before he died of a heart attack.
On rebuttal, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray said that Bates had told investigators that Harris’ death was on his conscience.
“I am asking you to put it on his record,” Gray said.

From Courthouse News.

Robert Bates’ Defense Says Bullet Didn’t Kill Man

April 27, 2016
By David Lee
TULSA (CN) – A defense witness testified Tuesday that Eric Harris died from a heart attack, not a gunshot, during the manslaughter trial of former volunteer Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates.
Emergency medicine specialist Dr. Mark Brandenburg said a medical examiner’s conclusion that Harris bled to death after being shot is “absolutely untrue,” the Tulsa World newspaper reported.
Brandenburg testified there was no evidence of bleeding in Harris’s chest cavity or of a lung collapse.
The doctor concluded that Harris, a black man, had a heart attack caused by elevated adrenaline and a “very high level” of methamphetamine in his body that “would impact a person.”
Brandenburg said adrenaline is an instigator of cardiac arrest and that Harris had an “underlying primary heart problem.”
Prosecutors asked on cross-examination how Harris could not have bled to death if doctors had to pump 4.5 liters of blood into him, and Harris’s body had only six liters of blood.
Asked where the pumped blood could have gone, Brandenburg said into defects, such as a punctured lung cause by a bullet.
Prosecutors also said that though the defense has said Harris appeared to be high on methamphetamine twice before when he bought guns, he did not die then.
Bates, 73, a white insurance executive, faces up to four years in prison if convicted of second-degree manslaughter.
He is shown in a body camera video shooting an restrained Harris, 44, during a gun sale sting and arrest last year.
Bates has steadfastly said he mistook his gun for his Taser, screaming, “Taser!” before firing and immediately apologizing as Harris screamed that he had been shot.

From Courthouse News.

State Rests in Tulsa Volunteer Deputy’s Trial

April 26, 2016
By David Lee
TULSA (CN) – The prosecution rested Monday in the manslaughter trial of former volunteer Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates, and jurors handled a Taser and revolver as they consider Bates’ claim he accidentally shot an unarmed black man instead of Tasering him.
Bates, 73, a white insurance executive, faces up to four years in prison if convicted of second-degree manslaughter. He is shown in a body camera video shooting an restrained Eric Courtney Harris, 44, during a gun sale sting and arrest last year.
Bates has repeatedly said he mistook his gun for his Taser, screaming “Taser” before firing and immediately apologizing as Harris screamed he had been shot.
Prosecutors told jurors that Bates’ mistaking his gun for his Taser amounts to culpable negligence, according to the Tulsa World newspaper.
Bates’ attorney Clark Brewster, with Brewster & De Angelis in Tulsa, told jurors the Taser and revolver Bates was carrying were very similar in grip and weight and both had laser sights.
Prosecutor Kevin Gray disagreed, pointing out that the Taser must be activated with the flip of a switch before being fired, while the gun requires only the pull of a trigger.
State District Judge William Musseman rejected a defense motion to dismiss after the prosecution rested, disagreeing with the claim that prosecutors had failed to present enough evidence that the gunshot had killed Harris.
The defense called as their first witness Dr. Charles Morgan, a psychologist who studies human cognitive errors during stressful situations. He testified that it would be “unusual” for no mistakes to occur in situations such as a gun sting where the suspect may be armed and is fleeing.
Morgan testified that highly trained people can make mistakes when under high stress due to adrenaline blocking reflective thinking and leaving reflexive actions to take place.
On cross-examination, Morgan testified that he will be paid $8,000 by Bates for his testimony.
Gray pointed out that Morgan’s usual research subjects are military personnel and that his research is not focused on local law enforcement agencies or volunteer officers, according to the Tulsa World.

From Courthouse News.

Volunteer Deputy’s Manslaughter Trial Begins

April 21, 2016
By David Lee
TULSA (CN) – An all-white jury heard opening statements Wednesday in the manslaughter trial of former volunteer Tulsa County sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates, who shot to death an unarmed and restrained black man.
Bates, 73, an insurance executive, pleaded not guilty in July last year to second-degree manslaughter involving culpable negligence. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to four years in state prison.
Bates is shown shooting Eric Courtney Harris, 44, in a body camera video of an illegal gun sale sting.
Harris is shown running away from deputies as they pull up to his vehicle. He is chased down, held to the ground and a single gunshot is heard.
Bates immediately says, “Oh, I shot him! I’m sorry!” as Harris screams.
An unidentified officer is heard saying, “Fuck your breath,” as Harris continues screaming that he is losing his breath .
Bates has steadfastly maintained that he mistook his gun for his Taser. He said both weapons had a laser to indicate the target.
“I saw the light and I squeezed the trigger, and then realized I dropped the gun,” he said in April 2015. “This was not an intentional thing. I had no desire to ever take anyone’s life.”
Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gray told jurors Wednesday that the video shows Bates yelling “Taser” before the shot is fired but that “you will never see the Taser leave his vest.”
Bates’ attorney, Clark O. Brewster with Brewster & De Angelis in Tulsa, told jurors that Bates’s gun and Taser were of similar weights, had lasers and had a similar feel and look.
“When he yelled ‘Taser, Taser, Taser,’ he mistakenly had his gun instead of the Taser,” Brewster said.
Brewster told jurors he will call expert witnesses to testify about how stress could have affected Bates’ performance. He also plans to call medical experts who will testify that Harris died from a heart attack from a heart condition and alleged methamphetamine use.
Brewster told reporters outside the courtroom that the day “went as we expected” and that “we are confident that justice will be served.”
Harris’ brother, Andre Harris, told reporters his brother’s character is being attacked and that Brewster was “mean-mugging” him.
“He has been calling my brother by a street name – my brother is deceased, you know?” he said. “He needs to give him enough respect to call him Eric Harris.”
Brewster said he called Harris “Forty” out of respect for the way he referred to himself in text messages.
The fallout from Harris’s death forced the resignation of former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz. He resigned in September after three decades in office after a grand jury recommended his suspension, launched ouster proceedings and indicted him on two criminal misdemeanor charges.
Glanz was accused of failing to timely release an internal report into whether Bates was given favorable treatment for volunteering his time and money to the department.

From Courthouse News.