Tulsa Rent-a-Deputy Robert Bates Convicted, but Tulsa Sheriff's Department is Really to Blame

Yesterday afternoon, a Tulsa jury found former “reserve” deputy Robert Bates guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris, who was both unarmed and subdued on the ground when Bates shot him through the back. As we noted back in April when we first covered this story, Bates’ defense was that he meant to pull his taser and accidentally pulled a gun instead and fired it.

The truly culpable party, though, is the Tulsa Sheriff’s Department, who willfully turned a blind eye to the fact that Robert Bates – who was a 73 year old insurance executive – had no business being on the force or carrying a service revolver, but was allowed to do so because he was a huge donor to the department. Former Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz has in fact been indicted in connection with this case, which positively reeks of corruption of the worst kind:

Of course, this story raised a whole host of uncomfortable questions for Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz – questions about how Bates came to obtain his position with his department and whether he should ever have been involved with the raid in the first place. Although Glanz has steadfastly denied wrongdoing, those questions ultimately resulted in the empaneling of a grand jury and were answered yesterday with criminal indictments, which has finally led to Glanz stepping down. The allegations are extraordinarily damning, as you might expect for a story that brought down a sheriff in Oklahoma:

The nine-week grand jury process resulted in eight allegations for the removal of Sheriff Stanley Glanz, with testimony indicating that Glanz told key figures to “keep your mouth shut” and “if I was you, I wouldn’t talk about this,” according to the court record.

One allegation is that Glanz’s actions created a potentially dangerous environment for others at the firing range. After then-Reserve Deputy Robert Bates was reprimanded for unsafely handling his gun at the range, he refused to complete the course and received a failing grade, the grand jury report says. Glanz then contacted instructors and told them to “take it easy” and “pass him,” the document says.

Allegations were also made that Glanz profited personally from Sheriff’s Office purchases.

Whatever penalty Bates ends up serving, Glanz should have to serve at least double, not to mention everyone else at the Tulsa Sheriff’s Department who turned a blind eye to the danger in their midst just because he kept the donor dollars coming.