The cop that allegedly gunned down Eric Harris is going on a Caribbean vacation before his next court appearance.
After pleading not guilty to charges that he shot Harris dead, Oklahoma Reserve Deputy Robert Bates asked to be allowed to attend a family vacation in the Bahamas earlier today. USA Today reports that a Tulsa judge cleared him for travel, but he is required to return to court on July 2.
The idea of the 73-year-old volunteer officer taking a leisurely excursion has upset Harris’ family, who issued a statement. They believe it is incredibly disrespectful of Bates as a suspect to be allowed such a luxury while still going through legal proceedings in Harris’ death and so quickly after the incident.
“Whether intended or not, Mr. Bates’ vacationing in the Bahamas at this time sends a message of apathy with respect to the shooting and Eric’s life,” Harris’ loved ones said in a message released by their lawyer. “At a time when we are still mourning the death of a loved one that he shot down in the street, Mr. Bates will be relaxing and enjoying his wealth and privilege.”
Bates was arrested in Harris’ murder, but he was released on $25,000 bail. Although the judge was within his rights to approve Bates’ request, it has drawn some criticism from legal experts.
“This is far from routine — it’s extraordinary,” said former federal prosecutor, Manny Medrano. “I’m astounded the judge would allow it.”
It’s so unusual that Medrano, who is now a criminal prosecutor in Los Angeles, speculated on whether the judge was showing favoritism to Bates. He mused, “You really have to question whether the officer is receiving unique and special treatment.”