Volunteer deputy who accidentally shot black man to death: "You must believe me, it can happen to anyone"

Reserve deputy Robert Bates accidentally killed Eric Harris when Bates reached for his gun instead of his taser

Published April 17, 2015 2:50PM (EDT)


On Friday morning's edition of the TODAY Show, Robert Bates, the Tulsa reserve deputy who accidentally killed 44-year-old Eric Harris when he reached for a gun instead of a taser, made his first public apology.

"First and foremost, let me apologize to the family of Eric Harris," Bates said. "This is the second-worst thing that's ever happened to me or the first that ever happened to me in my life. I had cancer a number of years ago. I didn't think I was going to get there, luckily I was able to go to a hospital where I was able get surgery... I'd rate this as number one on my list of things in my life that I regret."

Host Matt Lauer then asked how he made the mistake of grabbing a gun, to which Bates responded:

"This has happened a number of times around the country. I have read about it in the past. I thought to myself after reading several cases, I don't understand how this can happen... You must believe me. It can happen to anyone."

A recent report indicated the people in the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office were instructed to forge Bates' training records, and that those who refused were reassigned.

"That is not correct, I have a written piece of paper that a Mr. Warren Crittenden, now in jail for first-degree murder 40 miles east of here...signed off to say I had done a good job."

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Brutality Death Eric Harris Nbc Police Robert Bates Today Show Tulsa