Tuesday 23 January 2018

US policeman charged over latest shooting of black man

Denise Cromwell of the Black Lives Matter movement, looks over the memorial for Walter Scott after a vigil conducted by civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton at the site of Scott's death in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Denise Cromwell of the Black Lives Matter movement, looks over the memorial for Walter Scott after a vigil conducted by civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton at the site of Scott's death in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Muhiyidin Moye D'Baha of the Black Lives Matter movement, hugs a supporter during a vigil with civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton at the site of the death of Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. Photo: Reuters
Reserve Deputy Robert Bates. Photo: Reuters
Eric Harris was accidentally shot and killed by a Tulsa Reserve Deputy Robert Bates, who mistook his service weapon for a stun gun during an arrest, according to the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office. Photo: Reuters

Rachael Alexander in Los Angeles

A white reserve police officer has been charged with manslaughter after a black man was fatally shot as he lay on the ground.

Tulsa County, Oklahoma prosecutors filed a second-degree manslaughter charge against 73-year-old Robert Bates, over the latest shooting of an African-American by a white police officer to draw scrutiny.

Police treatment of minorities has become a major issue in the US after the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri; New York City and recently South Carolina.

A police investigator has said Bates thought he drew a stun gun, not his handgun, when he fired at Eric Harris (44) in the shooting on April 2.

Bates is charged with second-degree manslaughter "involving culpable negligence," Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said in a statement.

A video of the incident shot by deputies with sunglass cameras and released at the request of the victim's family, shows a deputy chase and tackle Harris, whom they said tried to sell an illegal gun to an undercover officer.

As the deputy subdues Harris on the ground, a gunshot rings out and a man says: "Oh, I shot him. I'm sorry."

Protests

Harris was treated by medics at the scene and died in a Tulsa hospital.

In the video of the incident Harris can be clearly heard shouting, "He shot me! He shot me, man. Oh, my god. I'm losing my breath," to which one officer replies, "F*** your breath."

Despite complaints by the wounded Harris that he is having problems breathing, officers continue to pin him to the ground by kneeling on his head. One officer tells Harris that he should "Shut the f*** up" and that he "shouldn't have f***ing run away".

Bates, a reserve deputy assigned to the violent crimes task force who had "the full powers and authority" of a deputy while on duty, was assisting other deputies in arresting Harris, a convicted felon, after he was caught attempting to try and sell a 9mm handgun and ammunition to an undercover officer nearby, police said.

Last year, the deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York father-of-six Eric Garner sparked protests across the US, with many questioning the use of fatal force by US police forces.

The latest killing in Oklahoma comes after last week's footage showing 50-year-old black man Walter Scott being shot by police officer Michael Slager in North Charleston, South Carolina, following a routine traffic stop.

Irish Independent

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