Tulsa County Oklahoma officials settled a civil rights lawsuit on Friday when it agreed to pay the estate of Eric Harris $6 million after he was shot and killed in 2015 by a man so rich, county officials allowed him to literally play a game of cops and robbers.
The case made national headlines when Tulsa County officers invited 73-year-old Reserve Deputy Robert Bates along for a gun sting meant to ensnare Harris. Harris was chased down and subdued by officers when Bates, a wealthy insurance executive with an affinity for law enforcement, shot Harris in the armpit. Bates claimed that he mistook his gun for his Taser, but was sentenced to four years in prison for second-degree manslaughter.
Bates was deputized as a reserve officer by his a fishing partner and benefactor, Tulsa County Sherrif Stanley Glanz. Gates had donated vehicles and equipment items to the Sherrif’s Department and gave money to Glanz’s political campaigns, serving as the campaign manager during Glanz’s 2012 run for Sherrif.
The Harris family lawsuit sued Bates, Glanz, and four other officers for excessive force and civil rights violations. The civil suit alleged Glanz of “turned a blind eye to these dangers … to allow his friend and financial benefactor to ‘play cop’ in the streets of Tulsa County.” It also charges that Bates was improperly trained.
After the Harris shooting, an internal investigation found records that showed Bates’ training records were falsified and that the County pressured investigators to deem the use of force “justifiable.”
The $6 million settlement closes the civil case and bars the Harris estate from filing individual suits against the defendants in the case. The money will be paid out over three years, bringing the total cost of Bates’ cop cosplay to $6.6 million for the citizens of Tulsa County, according to the Tulsa World.
“It’s in the best interest of all parties involved to resolve these claims at this time,” Tulsa County Sherrif Vic Regalado said. “I believe this decision will allow the process of healing to continue for the Harris family, the citizens of Tulsa County and the hard-working men and women of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.”
Glanz eventually resigned his office after he was charged with misdemeanor crimes in a subsequent investigation.
Robert Bates served 497 days of his four-year sentence and was released in 2016.