Photo via Tulsa County Sheriff's Office/YouTube
VICE News is closely watching policing in America. Check out the Officer Involved blog here."Fuck your breath!"That's what an officer from the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office can be heard yelling in a video that shows a wounded suspect being pinned to the ground in an April 2 incident where a 73-year-old deputy claims he accidentally fired his pistol instead of a Taser. The suspect, 44-year-old Eric Courtney Harris, later died as a result of his wounds.
Video of the incident was released Friday. Officials from the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office said at a press conference Friday that reserve deputy Robert Charles "Bob" Bates shot Harris after he mistook his gun for his Taser, according to the Tulsa World.The video shows police chasing Harris and tackling him. Bates can be heard saying "Taser! Taser!" before shooting the gun. Bates then immediately dropped the gun and can be heard saying, "I shot him, I'm sorry."Harris yells, "Oh shit, he shot me!" and tells the officers, "I'm losing my breath."That's when an officer yells, "Fuck your breath!"The other officers appear to make no attempt to treat Harris for the gunshot wound. They are shown holding Harris on the ground, handcuffing him, and telling him to "Shut the fuck up!"Harris had been the target of an undercover sting by the Tulsa County Sheriff's Violent Crimes Task Force, and had been in prison before for assault and battery of an officer. Police were arresting Harris after he allegedly sold a gun to an undercover task force member.According to the Tulsa World, Tulsa Police Sgt. Jim Clark described Bates' actions as being the result of a phenomenon called "slip and capture," where a person's behavior — in this case Bates' intention to use a Taser — can "slip" off their intended path in a tense situation and be "captured" by a stronger response.According to Clark, police thought Harris fled with a gun and then struggled with deputies as he was being held on the ground."He was absolutely a threat when going down" since he had not been searched yet, Clark said, according to Tulsa World. Harris was later found to be unarmed.Tulsa County Sheriff's Capt. Billy McKelvey said that the other arresting officers did not realize that Harris had been shot, and that they gave him first aid and called paramedics when they realized the extent of his injuries.Clark said at the press conference that Bates had not committed a crime or any policy violations. Tulsa County Sheriff's spokesman Maj. Shannon Clark told VICE News that the agency plans to voluntarily hand over the findings of their entire investigation to the FBI tomorrow for review.Follow Gillian Mohney on Twitter: @gillianmohney