The white reserve sheriff’s deputy who shot and killed an unarmed black man earlier this month disputed a local newspaper report that alleged his bosses had falsified his training records in a rambling Friday interview.
The Tulsa World reported Thursday that supervisors in the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were ordered to sign off on field training and firearms certifications that Robert Bates did not complete, citing multiple anonymous sources.
“That is not correct,” Bates said on NBC’s “Today,” adding that he has proof of his training “in writing.”
Bates and his attorney, Clark Brewster, then alleged that one of the newspaper’s anonymous sources was a man who was fired from the sheriff’s office seven years ago and is facing a murder charge. Brewster said that person is represented by the same law firm representing the family of Eric Harris, the unarmed black man who Bates fatally shot on April 2.
The sheriff’s office has said that Bates accidentally shot Harris because he mistook his handgun for a taser while trying to help subdue Harris. At one point in the interview, anchor Matt Lauer asked Bates to stand up and show where he keeps his taser in relation to his handgun when he’s on duty. Bates demonstrated that he keeps his taser inside his protective vest on his chest, while he keeps his handgun on his side near his hip.
Lauer also asked Bates, a wealthy 73-year-old insurance executive who is close to the sheriff, to respond to the characterization that he paid to play a cop.
“That is unbelievably unfair,” Bates responded. “I have donated equipment as I saw fit when the need happened to arise to allow the task force and other areas of the sheriff’s office to better do their jobs on the streets of Tulsa.”
The deputy apologized to Harris’ family and described the killing as “the second worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Or first.” He compared it to when he found out he was diagnosed with cancer.
Watch below via NBC News:
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.