'Reserve' Deputy Who Killed Man 'By Mistake' Allowed To Go On Vacation in Bahamas While Victim's Family Mourns
A volunteer sheriff's deputy plans to vacation in the Bahamas while facing a second-degree manslaughter charge in Oklahoma, his attorneys told a judge Tuesday, drawing immediate criticism from the family of the man he killed.
Robert Bates pleaded not guilty during the hearing in Tulsa district court. The 73-year-old former insurance executive has said he confused his handgun for a stun gun when he shot Eric Harris after the suspect ran during a sting investigation involving gun sales.
Bates' lawyers told the judge that Bates, a reserve deputy with the Tulsa County sheriff's office, and his family planned to take their previously planned vacation ahead of his next court date in July.
"It's really not an issue," Corbin Brewster, one of Bates' attorneys, said in an interview after the hearing.
Harris' family criticized the trip, saying it sends a message "of apathy with respect to the shooting and Eric's life."
"At a time when we are still mourning the death of a loved one that he shot down in the street, Mr. Bates will be relaxing and enjoying his wealth and privilege," the family said in a statement released Tuesday.