Oklahoma sheriff mistakes gun for Taser, fatally shoots suspect

An Oklahoma reserve sheriff's deputy accidentally shot and killed a man he was trying to arrest. In another case, a South Carolina man was shot by police after the Taser didn't stop him from fleeing. 

An Oklahoma reserve sheriff's deputy accidentally shot and killed a man he was trying to arrest after mistaking his service weapon for a stun gun, the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office said on Saturday.

Eric Harris, in his 40s, was shot by the reserve deputy on Thursday following a foot chase, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Tulsa County Sheriff's investigators were looking into the incident, the statement said. An autopsy on Harris was expected to be completed in coming days.

Undercover police had bought ammunition and a semi-automatic pistol from Harris when arresting officers attempted to arrest him in a parking lot, the sheriff's office said.

Harris fled and when police caught up with him, he resisted arrest, the statement said.

Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, a 73-year-old former police officer, was trying to help officers take Harris into custody when he fired his gun, the statement said.

After a brief foot pursuit, a deputy attempted to physically restrain Harris. As Harris continued to resist arrest, the struggle went to the ground where Harris refused to pull his left arm out from underneath his body where his hand was near his waistband. During the rapidly evolving altercation, the reserve deputy had what he believed was his Taser from his tactical carrier and attempted to render aid in subduing the suspect. Initial reports have determined that the reserve deputy was attempting to use less lethal force, believing he was utilizing a Taser, when he inadvertently discharged his service weapon, firing one round which struck Harris.

The sheriff's office said Harris continued to struggle after the gun was fired, and might have been under the influence of drugs. He was described as a felon and had been under investigation for narcotic sales.

Harris' relatives could not be reached by telephone for comment. His death follows a string of fatal shootings involving police that have sparked a national debate about use of force by law enforcement.

Bates told the Tulsa World newspaper his attorney had advised him not to comment on the shooting. (Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Seattle; Editing by Ian Simpson and Chizu Nomiyama)

in a separate shooting, in South Carolina, involving a case of a suspect resisting arrest and the use of a Taser, a man was shot and killed by a city police officer after the motorist fought over the officer's Taser.

In a news release issued to local media outlets, an officer stopped a car around 9:30 a.m. Saturday. North Charleston police spokesman Spencer Pryor said the motorist ran off during the stop, according to the Associated Press.

Pryor said the officer used his Taser on the motorist, but it didn't stop him. He said a struggle ensued, and the driver got control of the Taser and was about to use it on the officer when the officer drew his weapon and shot the man. The suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.