An “accidental” discharge during a police takedown proves to be fatal for unarmed man

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The narrative is growing tired. A man being pursued by the police for whatever reason–certainly not because they feel as if their lives are endangered–ends up dead, despite the fact he made no attempt to harm a hair on an official’s head. Time and time again, investigations conclude that they were unarmed, which somehow always manages to be a surprise to the officers involved.

We’re not surprised, at all.


On April 2 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, police body cameras captured a brief chase of a man, Eric Harris, who had escaped the back of a police car while he was being brought into custody for attempting to flee a sting operation. Harris was being accused of trying to sell a gun and ammunition to an undercover cop.

The chase didn’t last long, and in a matter of seconds, officers that gave chase from a trailing police car had caught up to Harris, and pinned him down on the sidewalk. Moments later, a loud noise, and confused screams followed.

Robert Bates, a 73-year old reserve deputy, fired his gun into Harris, eventually killing him. Harris began screaming right away that he’d been shot. Bates says he thought his gun was his taser.

Despite the fact that, as the video shows, one officer’s knee was pressed down directly on the back of Harris’ head, pinning him to the sidewalk, Sgt. Jim Clark of the Tulsa Police force claims that Harris was still “absolutely a threat.”

The sherriff’s office also offered a weak and pathetic evaluation: “He [Bates] made an inadvertent mistake.”

There will be no further investigation into the incident unless that order comes directly from the sherriff’s office, and that order has yet to come.