Deputy ‘inadvertently’ shoots suspect with gun, believing he was using Taser
A Tulsa County reserve deputy is on administrative leave after “inadvertently” shooting a suspect with his gun.
Police say Robert (Bob) Bates, 73, thought he pulled out his Taser during an arrest, but instead shot the suspect, who later died at a local hospital.
The shooting happened after an apparent drug and gun selling operation by the Tulsa Violent Crimes task force Thursday. Bates, a member of the task force, was part of a group of deputies trying to arrest Eric Courtney Harris, 44, in the parking lot of a Dollar General store.
Police say Harris, a convicted felon, sold undercover officers a pistol. When confronted by an arrest team, he fled the scene on foot and police say they “observed him reaching for his waistband area …causing concern for the deputies safety.”
After a brief pursuit, police say Harris was forced to the ground, where he continued to resist arrest and “refused to pull his left arm from underneath his body where his hand was near his waistband.”
It was during this portion of the arrest that police say “the reserve deputy was attempting to use less lethal force, believing he was utilizing a Taser, when he inadvertently discharged his service weapon, firing one round which struck Harris.”
Harris died at a local hospital and his cause of death is under investigation. Police say Harris admitted to medics at the scene that he may have been under the influence of Phencyclidine, a street drug commonly known as PCP.
Virginia bans asking job applicants about criminal history
Governor Terry McAuliffe on Friday signed an executive order making Virginia the latest U.S. state to prohibit government employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history.
Virginia joins more than a dozen other states in its decision to “ban the box” on job applications that prospective employees are asked to check if they have been convicted of a crime.
An individual’s rap sheet may be considered only if it “bears specific relation to the job for which they are being considered,” such as child care workers, state troopers, court officers and jail guards, said gubernatorial spokesman Brian Coy.
"In a new Virginia economy, people who make mistakes and pay the price should be welcomed back into society and given the opportunity to succeed,” McAuliffe said in a statement.
"This executive order will remove unnecessary obstacles to economic success for Virginians who deserve a second chance," the Democratic governor said.
While the restriction applies to state hiring practices, McAuliffe said he hoped it would encourage private employers to follow suit.
The National Employment Law Project estimates that almost one in three adults in the United States has a criminal record that will show up on a routine criminal background check.
The move was applauded by Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, who aims to improve job re-entry programs for inmates released from jail.
"This is a responsible approach that keeps initial background checks for sensitive jobs in state government while ensuring that a youthful mistake or wrong decision doesn’t close the doors of opportunity for a lifetime," Herring said.
Other states that have banned the box, Coy said, include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island.