The reserve sheriff’s deputy charged earlier this week with manslaughter for fatally shooting an unarmed man in Oklahoma reportedly did not go through the required field and weapons training.
The Tulsa World newspaper reported Thursday that supervisors in the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office signed off on training sessions and firearms certifications that Reserve Deputy Robert Bates did not complete, citing multiple anonymous sources.
At least three supervisors were disciplined with transfers for refusing to falsify Bates’ training records, according to the report.
The newspaper also pointed to Bates’ statement after the shooting that he’d been certified as a reserve deputy in 2007 as corroboration. The sheriff’s office said that Bates has been a reserve deputy since 2008.
Sheriff’s Maj. Shannon Clark told CNN that he was skeptical of the newspaper report.
“Just keep in mind that the Tulsa World reporter cannot validate her sources and claims anonymity, which leaves us skeptical that her claims are unsubstantiated and deceptive,” Clark wrote the news outlet in an email.
Bates, a white 73-year-old insurance executive, was charged Monday with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Eric Harris. Bates shot Harris, who was black, while trying to help officers arrest Harris during an undercover operation on April 2. Law enforcement initially said Bates mistook his handgun for a Taser.
Sheriff Stanley Glantz defended Bates, who he’s described as a longtime friend, in an interview with The Tulsa World earlier this week.
“He made an error,” Glantz said. “How many errors are made in an operating room every week?”
The sheriff also vouched for Bates’ weapons training in a podcast interview, although he said records related to that training were missing.
“Bob went out and qualified with three different weapons with an instructor,” Glantz told local radio station KFAQ, adding that the agency can’t find the records he said were signed by a female firearms instructor who left the sheriff’s office for the Secret Service.
Bates chaired Glantz’s 2012 re-election committee and donated to the sheriff’s campaign. He’s also donated equipment to the agency, raising questions about whether Bates paid to play a cop.