Robert Bates is the white Oklahoma man who wanted to be a cop so badly he donated loads of money to his local police force. And in return Bates was allowed to be a volunteer deputy, participate in ride-alongs and even have a real working gun, which he used to kill Eric Harris in 2015.
Bates was sentenced to four years in prison but walked out after only serving less than 500 days. He’s since moved to Florida, and recently told a Tulsa news station that he’s sorry for taking a Mr. Harris’ life.
“I feel very bad about it,” Bates told KTUL-TV in his first public comments since being released from prison. “It has been a very disruptive thing in my life. I feel sorry for his son, his ex-wife and family. It bothers me,” Bates said in the interview that aired Thursday.
The 77-year-old was assisting another officer in arresting Harris, who was unarmed and already on the ground when Bates, who had his weapon drawn, shot and killed Harris. Bates claimed that he was reaching for his stun gun when he accidentally pulled his handgun.
Bates was convicted of second-degree manslaughter but served less than half of that time. “He was seen earlier this year allegedly drinking alcohol, which would have violated his parole. But a state Department of Corrections spokesman, Matt Elliott, said an investigation found no evidence that Bates had been drinking,” the Associated Press reports.
Bates claims that even after killing the unarmed man, he was shocked when he was sent to prison.
“What kind of purpose did it do to put me in prison? I mean it’s the law, but, you know, I was rather surprised … that I ended up in prison,” Bates said. “I think I served more than enough time.”
An attorney for Harris’ family did not immediately return the Associated Press’ call seeking comment.