Reserve deputies with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office in Oklahoma will no longer be able to patrol by themselves in the aftermath of the shooting death of an unarmed suspect, officials said Thursday.
The department also will review the qualifications of its 126 volunteer deputies after a 73-year-old reserve deputy was charged with manslaughter in the death, according to a statement released Thursday afternoon.
The agency's volunteer program has been under scrutiny since April 2, when Reserve Deputy Robert Bates shot and killed Eric Harris, 44, during an undercover operation. Bates, a wealthy insurance executive who often donated cars and other equipment to the Sheriff's Office, said he meant to deploy his stun gun but drew his firearm by accident.
Bates has pleaded not guilty to a manslaughter charge and faces up to four years in prison if convicted. His qualifications were called into question last week, after a 2009 internal affairs report revealed he had been allowed to conduct traffic stops and other patrol duties without completing the proper training regimen.
The report also suggested two high-ranking sheriff's deputies routinely harassed officers who questioned Bates. When one officer told Bates he was not qualified to conduct traffic stops, Bates flaunted his clout with Sheriff Stanley Glanz and Chief Deputy Tim Albin, according to the report.
"Well, I can do it, and if you don't like it, you can talk to Tim Albin or Sheriff Glanz because I'm going to do it," Bates said, according to the report.
Bates' attorney has argued that the report, compiled six years before the April 2 shooting, had no bearing on the incident that led to Harris' death. Albin resigned Monday, days after the internal affairs report became public.
The Sheriff's Office said Thursday that reserves "will continue to be utilized for law enforcement purposes while being partnered with a certified deputy." The department classifies reserves in three categories -- basic, intermediate and advanced -- but will not allow reserves to operate at the advanced level until the review is complete.
The sheriff's office did not say what the review would consist of. A spokesman did not respond to an e-mail seeking additional comment.