Police officer fatally shoots man after drawing gun instead of taser

The incident occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma as part of an undercover operation

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A police officer has accidentally shot dead an ex-convict in Tulsa, Oklahoma as part of an undercover sting.

Robert Charles Bates, 73, a reserve deputy, who intended to use his taser to incapacitate the suspect, mistakenly drew his gun and shot Eric Courtney Harris once in the torso on Thursday morning.

Harris, 44, was treated at the scene by paramedics and was then taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead just after 11am local time.

In a statement, the Tulsa sheriff’s office said that Harris was a “known, convicted felon” whom Deputy Reserve Bates was attempting to take into custody.

The undercover officers were conducting a controlled operation to buy firearms and ammunitions from Harris, who as a convicted criminal was barred from possessing guns.

After the officers successfully bought the weapons they attempted to take Harris into custody when an altercation occurred.

The suspect then fled the scene on foot, before he was shot by the reserve deputy a short distance from the location of the initial confrontation.

Major Shannon Clark of the sheriff’s office said that the officers had struggled to get Harris under control.

“[Deputy Reserve Bates] ran up, he was trying to use a less lethal device, he was trying to get the situation under control, inadvertently he discharged a round from his service weapon,” he told Tulsa8.

“Nobody meant to harm this individual to this degree,” he added.

Harris had a string of previous convictions; six felony cases and one misdemeanour case were filed against Harris at Tulsa County district court over a decade, according to court records accessed by Tulsa World.

The sheriff’s office is continuing to investigate the shooting.