The Tulsa, Oklahoma, sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed a suspected black market gun dealer reportedly did it unintentionally.
In a statement released by the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office on Friday, the reserve sheriff’s deputy “inadvertently” fired his weapon instead of grabbing his taser.
The shooting of ex-convict Eric Harris, 44, took place Friday outside a Dollar General Store during an undercover sting by sheriff's deputies in a controlled buy of weapons and ammunition.
Harris was originally suspected of selling a form of methamphetamine called ICE, and during that investigation, it was discovered he was also able to sell illegal weapons.
The sale of the weapons was completed by undercover officers in the Dollar Store parking lot and when officers tried to arrest Harris, he fled and reached into his waistband, reports Huffington Post. Harris was knocked to the ground, but he refused to remove his hand from his pants and resisted arrest. The reserve deputy then tried to use “less lethal force” to apprehend Harris.
"Initial reports have determined that the reserve deputy was attempting to use less lethal force, believing he was utilizing a Taser, when he inadvertently discharged his service weapon, firing one round which struck Harris," the sheriff’s department release said.
A source told News On 6 that the sheriff’s deputy who fired on Harris, 73-year-old Robert Charles Bates, was so shocked when the gun fired that he dropped it.
"There were statements made after the situation that led everybody there to believe he did not intend to shoot him, that was not his intent whatsoever,” Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Shannon Clark said.
Harris died at a hospital later in the day. He reportedly told medical personnel at the scene he was under the influence of phencyclidine, a street drug commonly known as PCP.
One gunshot struck Harris, but his cause of death has not been determined by the medical examiner.
Harris’ criminal record shows numerous convictions, including unauthorized use of a vehicle, escaping from a state penitentiary, and robbery with a dangerous weapon.