The Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office continued on Friday denying that former reserve deputy Robert Bates used force during a 2015 drug raid at a south Tulsa trailer park.
That denial comes despite the release of a new camera angle of the interaction between Bates and 35-year-old Alejandro Eutimio that clearly shows Bates pointing his Taser at the handcuffed man.
The incident came just three weeks before Bates fatally shot a tackled, unarmed man during a gun sting in north Tulsa.
On Wednesday, The Frontier and NewsOn6 revealed one angle of the footage, which showed Bates simultaneously holding his Taser and handgun during the March 2015 encounter with Eutimio, but did not conclusively show the 73-year-old reserve deputy pointing either weapon at the man.
Questioned why the incident was not recorded as a “use of force,” TCSO Public Information Officer Justin Green issued a statement saying “There was no use of force shown from either camera.”
However, that statement appears to be contradicted by a new angle of the video released by the sheriff’s office Friday. In the previously unreleased camera angle, Bates clearly points his yellow x26 Taser at Eutimio, though it doesn’t appear to have been fired.
Official TCSO policy states that “the pointing of a lethal or less-lethal weapon at a subject” constitutes use of force.
Green said Friday afternoon that the sheriff’s office had consulted with outside attorneys and decided to “respectfully decline” an interview, opting instead to “stand on” their statement issued on Thursday.
But that statement specifically mentioned “use of physical force,” which is not the issue raised by the footage.
The first angle of the video is recorded via a camera in sunglasses worn by deputy Ricardo Vaca, who stayed outside on the porch with Bates and Eutimio as other deputies searched the man’s trailer.
The new angle is recorded via a sunglass camera worn by deputy Lance Ramsey, who enters the house along with other deputies to search for drugs. However, Ramsey’s angle provides a new view of Bates’ interaction with Eutimio, and shows Bates arriving to the scene.
Viewed together, the two angles provide compelling evidence that Bates not only acted recklessly at the scene, drawing a handgun on a naked, handcuffed man, but also committed a “use of force” per TCSO guidelines.
About 30 seconds after Bates first appears on the scene, former Maj. Tom Huckeby, who is standing at the door of the trailer alongside Ramsey, yells at deputies to handcuff Eutimio, who had just been pulled onto the porch.
Huckeby then yells: “You wanna get Tasered? Taser!” At which point Bates points the Taser at Eutimio. The Taser lights up, but it’s not clear if it was activated. Eutimio groans as another deputy pins him to the ground, at which point Huckeby yells at Vaca to “get over there” to Bates, who still has his Taser pointed at the man.
Eutimio, who was suspected of selling drugs, asks “What did I do?” To which Bates responds “everything.”
About 35 seconds later, Bates mentions giving Eutimio a “second round,” and asks the man “What are you moaning about? What’s hurtin?” Vaca tells Bates to stop, which Green said in his email Thursday was due to the fact that Vaca could not hear deputies who were clearing the trailer.
During this last interaction, Bates has drawn his handgun, which is in his right hand, while still holding his Taser. A minute later when Bates is next shown on camera, he has holstered his handgun, and has moved his Taser back to his right hand.
Less than a minute-and-a-half later, Bates has left the porch and is no longer in view. The footage ends with Vaca throwing the search warrant in Eutimio’s face after the man asked to speak with his attorney.
Three weeks after this incident, Bates shot and killed Eric Harris during a botched gun sting in north Tulsa. Harris sold an undercover deputy a stolen gun, saw approaching officers and fled. While Harris was tackled, Bates approached, yelled “Taser! Taser!” Then shot Harris under the right arm.
Bates said he confused his handgun for his Taser and Harris died shortly after at a Tulsa hospital.
Bates was later charged with second-degree manslaughter. His trial is set to begin April 18.