Robert Bates: Fantasy Cop With A Real Gun (Update)
Apr. 13, 2015 (Mimesis Law) — Just because he was 73 years of age doesn’t mean Bob Bates was beyond playing dress up. In his case, the fantasy was to pretend he was a cop. Lucky for him the Tulsa Sheriff’s department was more than willing to offer a guy who just happened to donate enough stuff the chance to strap on a really cool uniform.
But not just a uniform. It came with a gun. A real, working, gun. A gun with which a guy like Bob Bates, an older fellow who might be scrutinized to determine whether he should be allowed behind the wheel of a car the chance to shoot and kill another human being. Via Tulsa World:
Robert Bates, the reserve Tulsa County deputy who fatally shot a man who was in a physical altercation with another deputy last week, has donated thousands of dollars worth of items to the Sheriff’s Office since becoming a reserve deputy in 2008.
Bates, 73, accidentally shot Eric Harris on Thursday, according to Maj. Shannon Clark, after Harris — the subject of an undercover gun and ammunition buy by the Sheriff’s Office’s Violent Crimes Task Force — fled from arrest and then fought with a deputy who tackled him. Bates, Clark said, thought he was holding a stun gun when he pulled the trigger.
Many police departments have “reserve” cops, though most prefer men and women with slightly more vigor than a 73-year-old. And don’t hand them a working gun.
If the part about grabbing the gun when he meant to grab the Taser sounds familiar, it’s the excuse that spared BART cop Johannes Mehserle from a murder conviction for killing Oscar Grant. As excuses go, it was miserably inadequate for a real cop. For a poseur like cop-wannabe Bob Bates, it’s absurd.
There are times when the police can use some extra hands, such as parades and crowd control at a Puffy Daddy concert, and it’s an opportunity to put old men in silly costumes so they can order around people who would otherwise tell them to go suck eggs. But while those types do little more harm than annoy people, the price of getting a costume with some real firepower is a bit higher.
“There are lots of wealthy people in the reserve program,” he said. “Many of them make donations of items. That’s not unusual at all.”
Bates has donated multiple vehicles, guns and stun guns to the Sheriff’s Office since he became a reserve deputy in 2008, Clark said. The Sheriff’s Office did not have an itemized list of donations made by Bates available Monday and deferred that question to the county commissioners’ office, which tracks those items.
This appears to be offered as some ironic rationale, as if buying one’s way to the authority to kill makes it more understandable, more acceptable. Hey, lots of “wealthy people” want to dress up like police officers and get to play with cool toys that shoot bullets. So don’t blame Bob Bates? Or don’t blame Bates any more than you blame the rest of the wealthy nutjobs who harbor some secret desire to shoot guns at people?
Aren’t old men allowed to indulge in their fantasy? If they pay the price of admission, why shouldn’t they be given a gun to go with that cool uniform, to be pulled out as desired. Or by mistake?
And was it a mistake? It’s certainly easy to believe that a 73-year-old pretend cop like Bates could grab his gun rather than his Taser, since wealth donors get both weapons to wear on their Batman belts, and killed rather than stunned. Yet, the real Tulsa deputies didn’t seem too shocked by the shooting.
“He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I’m losing my breath,” Harris then said.
“F*ck your breath,” an officer can be heard saying. “Shut the f*ck up!”
Bates can once again be heard lamenting, “I shot him. I’m sorry.”
The dead guy, Eric Harris, was no saint, coming under police scrutiny for selling drugs and guns. When he bolted, however, he was unarmed. When Bates shot him, he posed no threat of harm, except perhaps to a 73-year-old who felt compelled to take him down.
According to Maj. Shannon Clark of the Tulsa Sheriff’s office, Bates was combat ready.
Bates, who served as a Tulsa police officer for one year in 1964, is not compensated for his time assisting the sheriff’s deputies, and is classified as an “advanced reserve,” meaning he “can do anything a full-time deputy can do,” explained Clark.
Apparently, that includes shooting an unarmed man. It’s good to be a wealthy donor with a cop fetish. It’s good to be an old man given a gun in Tulsa. It’s not so good to be the guy he kills.
Update: Via WaPo, Bates has been charged:
“Mr. Bates is charged with Second-Degree Manslaughter involving culpable negligence. Oklahoma law defines culpable negligence as ‘the omission to do something which a reasonably careful person would do, or the lack of the usual ordinary care and caution in the performance of an act usually and ordinarily exercised by a person under similar circumstances and conditions,’” Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in a statement.
If you want to play cop and have a gun, the nonsensical excuse of “slips and capture” won’t save you from the exercise of due care.
This post originally appeared on Simple Justice.