The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office said on Thursday it will limit the duties of reserve deputies including no longer allowing them to patrol alone after a white volunteer deputy was charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black suspect.
The sheriff’s office has faced questions about whether these deputies have been properly trained following the April 2 incident in which reserve deputy Robert Bates killed suspect Eric Harris, saying he meant to draw a stun gun but instead used a handgun.
Bates, a 73-year-old insurance agent, has pleaded not guilty in death of Harris. The Oklahoma incident raised fresh questions about racial bias in policing in the United States as well as the use of reserve deputies.
Officials said the sheriff’s office will conduct an internal audit of its 130 reserve deputies’ training records and that the duties of these deputies will be temporarily limited during the review, including no longer permitting them to patrol alone. Bates was with full-time deputies at the time of the shooting.
According to a 2009 memo detailing an investigation into Bates’ records released by the attorneys for the Harris family, some Tulsa County officers claimed Bates did not complete required training and received special treatment.
Bates received hundreds of hours of training since 2009, according to his lawyer.
(Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Will Dunham)