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Oklahoma State Bureau Of Investigation Opens Probe Into Tulsa County Sheriff's Office

Former Tulsa County Sheriff's reserve deputy Robert Bates enters the Tulsa County Jail.
Matt Trotter
KWGS Public Radio Tulsa
Tulsa County Sheriff's reserve deputy Robert Bates enters the Tulsa County Jail on April 14, 2015.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation announced Monday morning it's opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct in the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.

Credit Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation / Facebook

The move comes nearly two months after the shooting of a restrained suspect by a volunteer deputy. Eric Harris died when Robert Bates shot him after reportedly confusing his service revolver with his stun gun.

The OSBI said in a news release that was also posted on social media it formally opened the investigation Friday after it was requested by Okmulgee County District Attorney O.R. Barris. He’s prosecuting the case after Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler recused his own office, citing a possible conflict of interest.

“When the investigation is completed, the Bureau will provide D.A. Barris a thorough, written report,” the OSBI said in the statement. “D.A. Barris will determine if any violations of state laws occurred within the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.”

From the Tulsa World’s Jarrel Wade:

Monday's OSBI announcement did not specify what would be investigated, but allegations of special treatment, harassment and intimidation of employees related to Bates were detailed in a 2009 Sheriff's Office memo, previously reported on in the Tulsa World. Since the release of the memo, three high-ranking officials have left the Sheriff's Office, including that of former Undersheriff Tim Albin, Maj. Tom Huckeby and Maj. Shannon Clark. Albin and Huckeby were specifically the focus of the 2009 memo and investigation.

The April 2 Tulsa incident, and other fatal encounters between citizens and law enforcement across the country has raised concerns about the use of volunteers to help alleviate shortages in local law enforcement agencies.

A 2009 memo surfaced indicating Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office officials leaned on staffers to ignore deficiencies in Bates’ training. Bates was also reportedly close with Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, and played a key role in his reelection campaign. Bates has resigned from the reserve deputy program since the shooting, and has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter.

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