A white former sheriff’s deputy who served time in prison after fatally shooting an unarmed black man could face punishment for violating his parole after he was recently seen drinking at an Oklahoma bar, The Root reports.
Robert Bates, 76, was spotted by another patron sitting at the bar of a Tulsa restaurant earlier this year. The incident caught on video shows a half-filled wine glass in front of Bates, though it doesn’t show him drinking from it.
He was released last October after serving 16 months for manslaughter for shooting and killing Eric Harris, who is black, during a botched illegal gun sting in 2015.
He was sentenced for “accidentally” shooting Harris after the suspect had already been tackled and restrained by officers. Upon his release, he was sentenced to serve nine months under post-imprisonment supervision by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
The ODC is probing the allegation and if the ex-reserve Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office deputy is found to have violated the terms of his probation, the department will “treat him like we do all former inmates who violate their supervision,” said ODC spokesman Matt Elliott on Thursday.
Bates’ lawyer would not confirm whether his client was drinking at the bar but says Bates was not harming anyone. “He’s an old man off in Florida doing nobody any harm,” said Bates’ attorney Guy Fortney.