Autopsy: Tulsa man's lungs collapsed after he was shot by reserve deputy

Autopsy: Tulsa man's lungs collapsed after he was shot by reserve deputy
Robert Bates has pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge in the fatal shooting of an unarmed suspect. (Tulsa County, Okla., Sheriff's Office)

An autopsy has revealed that the man who was mistakenly shot and killed by a reserve sheriff's deputy in Tulsa County, Okla., suffered two collapsed lungs and a broken rib and was under the influence of drugs, according to a report from the state medical examiner's office.

Eric Harris, 44, died of a bullet wound to his right side after Robert Bates, 73, a wealthy insurance executive with close political ties to Tulsa County's elected sheriff, shot him after drawing his firearm when he meant to deploy his stun gun, the autopsy report said.


Harris, who was the target of an undercover gun sting, was on methamphetamine at the time of his death and showed symptoms of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, according to the report.

Harris died about 35 minutes after he was shot, according to the report released Tuesday.

Bates' attorney, Clark Brewster, told the Los Angeles Times that the autopsy made it "pretty obvious the gunshot didn't kill" Harris.

"He had pronounced atherosclerosis throughout and he was heavily acutely intoxicated with methamphetamine, which would have caused a much higher blood pressure and heart rate, which probably led, under the circumstances, to his death," Brewster said.

Bates' has been charged with manslaughter, and the shooting has led many to openly question Bates' training and the effectiveness of the department's reserve deputy program.

A 2009 internal affairs report, made public last month by Harris' attorneys, show Bates had ascended to the level of "advanced" reserve despite the fact that he hadn't completed the necessary training.

He also often flouted his connections to Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz when criticized by other officers, and was protected from discipline by two high-ranking members of the agency, according to the 2009 report. Bates had donated cars and other equipment to the department and was a close friend of Glanz.

Chief Deputy Tim Albin, who was one of Bates' alleged protectors, resigned from the department weeks later. Maj. Tom Huckeby, who was also named in the 2009 report, stepped down Tuesday, according to a statement released by the attorneys representing the Harris family.

The department also stopped reserve deputies from patrolling on their own in the wake of the shooting, and Glanz also told a local newspaper that he would not seek reelection next year.

Brewster previously told The Times that his client's job typically didn't require him to be involved in arrests or other patrol functions. He became involved in the April 2 incident when Harris fled, and video of the incident shows Bates yelling "Taser!" before he fires a single gunshot.

"I shot him," said Bates, as his gun fell to the ground. "I'm sorry."

Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news.