Reserve Deputy Robert Bates

Reserve Deputy Robert Bates

A deputy who was present when Robert Bates used his Taser on a handcuffed man was among witnesses testifying Thursday before a grand jury investigating Sheriff Stanley Glanz.

Deputy Evan Foster is among at least eight Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office employees who have been called to testify before the grand jury, which began hearing testimony last week.

Also testifying Thursday was Deputy Tim Wilkens, whose name appears as an instructor on firearms training records for Bates, a reserve deputy.

Foster and Wilkens both declined to comment to reporters about their testimony.

The grand jury is investigating events surrounding the April 2 fatal shooting of Eric Harris by Bates, a close friend and former campaign manager for Glanz.

Bates said he mixed up his Taser and his firearm when he shot Harris following an undercover gun buy. He was charged with second-degree manslaughter and has pleaded not guilty.

About six weeks before he shot Harris, Bates was involved in a traffic stop in which he used his Taser on an unarmed, handcuffed man, Terry Byrum.

The Harris and Byrum incidents share several key details. Byrum was on the ground, already handcuffed and subdued by deputies when Bates arrived, according to a civil rights lawsuit he joined against the Sheriff’s Office. Bates placed his foot on Byrum’s head and fired his Taser, though Byrum was not resisting arrest, the suit states.

No charges were filed against Byrum related to that arrest. He is currently in prison on unrelated drug convictions, records show.

A key issue before grand jurors involves whether Bates’ training records were falsified and whether supervisors were pressured to sign off on his training records. Wilkens was an instructor listed on four of Bates’ firearms training records.

Some of Bates’ scores show improvement that seems unlikely when compared to the range of scores from fellow deputies. On Sept. 24, 2009, Bates initially scored a 16 out of 100 percent possible score, records show. He went on to score a 64 and then a 72 percent, passing the test with the minimum required score.

Wilkens was also an instructor listed on Bates’ training records on April 15, 2010, when his score rose from 48 to 80 percent.

Another Sheriff’s Office employee listed on Bates’ training records, Sgt. Kyle Hess, also appeared before the grand jury last week. Hess was listed as an instructor on at least three of Bates’ firearms qualifying tests.

Previous witnesses have included Sgt. Randy Chapman, who expressed concern that Bates lacked the training to patrol on his own, according to a 2009 internal affairs investigation report.

Chapman reported during the investigation that he was pressured by supervisors, including former Undersheriff Tim Albin, to leave Bates alone.