Former Oklahoma reserve sheriff’s deputy Robert Bates is free from prison but not out of the woods, with several months of supervision ahead and two civil rights lawsuits pending, the Tulsa World reports. Bates, 76, gained his early release Thursday after obtaining enough credits to slice about 2½ years off his four-year sentence for manslaughter in Eric Harris’ shooting death. Bates spent 497 days in prison, about 37 percent of his four-year sentence. The appeal of his conviction remains pending, and he is a defendant in civil rights litigation filed by Harris’ estate. He also is being sued by Terry Byrum, who alleges that Bates used excessive force when Bates used a Taser on him as Byrum lay on the ground in handcuffs.
Bates was convicted of second-degree manslaughter. Jurors determined that he was “culpably negligent” when he confused his revolver for a Taser and shot Harris as deputies held him on the ground after Harris ran from an undercover gun sting on April 2, 2015. One post-release condition is that Bates not associate with anyone who has a criminal record. That is notable because former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, a longtime friend, was convicted of two misdemeanors.