(TULSA, Okla.) — Robert Bates, a reserve deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Department, charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Eric Harris earlier this month after he claims he mistook his firearm for his Taser, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
In a court appearance that lasted just moments, Bates entered his plea and the court approved a month-long vacation to the Bahamas for Bates, while he is free on bond. Bates did not offer comments to the media before or after the court appearance, while his attorney said only that the team looked forward to making their case in court.
Harris’ family released a statement Tuesday expressing displeasure that Bates would go on a vacation “during this tumultuous time.”
“We are not surprised that Mr. Bates pled not guilty,” read a statement released by Harris’ family. “We are, however, surprised that Mr. Bates would choose to go on a vacation to the Bahamas during this tumultuous time. Whether intended or not, Mr. Bates’ vacationing in the Bahamas at this time sends a message of apathy with respect to the shooting and Eric’s life.”
“At a time when we are still mourning the death of a loved one that he shot down in the street,” the statement continued, “Mr. Bates will be relaxing and enjoying his wealth and privilege.”
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