Report: Training records for volunteer deputy who killed suspect were forged

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(CNN) — Some supervisors at the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office were told to forge Robert Bates’ training records, and when three of them refused, they were reassigned to less desirable assignments, the Tulsa World reported.

Bates’ training has come under scrutiny since the 73-year-old volunteer deputy killed Eric Harris on April 2. Bates claims he meant to use his Taser but accidentally fired his handgun instead.

The newspaper said the Sheriff’s Office provided a list of the courses Bates received credit for, but not the supervisors who signed off on the training.

“Almost immediately, we started hearing from different people that the training records had been falsified,” Dylan Goforth, one of the reporters, says in a video posted along with the story.

The Tulsa World story does not say who asked the supervisors to allegedly falsify the records, when — or why.

Bates was classified by the Sheriff’s Office as an “advanced reserve.” That means Bates would have had to complete 480 hours of the “Field Training Officer,” or FTO, program to maintain that classification, the paper said.

He also would have needed firearms certification training.

“And that is one of the things our sources told us he could not qualify at the range,” Ziva Branstetter, another reporter who worked on the piece, says in the video. “You have to get a certain score. And then supervisors were told to go ahead and sign it anyway. They refused and they were transferred.”

The Sheriff’s Office vehemently denied the allegations in the World’s report. It also declined a CNN interview to respond to the claims.

But in an email to CNN, the department’s Maj. Shannon Clark said the lack of named sources in the Tulsa World report leaves him dubious.

“Just keep in mind that the Tulsa world reporter cannot validate her sources and claims anonymity which leaves us skeptical that her claims are unsubstantiated and deceptive,” Clark wrote.

Missing gun certification records

However, the sheriff himself has acknowledged there is a problem with Bates’ gun certification records — his office can’t find them.

“Bob went out and qualified with three different weapons with an instructor,” Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz told KFAQ radio this week.

He said Bates “qualified with a young lady that was a firearms instructor.” But she is no longer there.

“She has left the Sheriff’s Office and is now a Secret Service agent,” Glanz told KFAQ. “And we’re trying to get a hold of her and talk to her about … we can’t find the records that she supposedly turned in. So we’re going to talk to her and find out if for sure he did qualify with those.”

Inconsistent statements

Even before the World story, inconsistencies were apparent in Bates’ history with the sheriff’s department.

In his statement to investigators, Bates said he “became an advanced TCSO Reserve Deputy in 2007.”

But the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office has said Bates had been a reserve deputy since 2008.

It also said Bates had undergone 300 hours of training. That would be less than the 480 hours of field training officer training that the Tulsa World said is required to be an “advanced” reserve deputy.

“There is a really big gulf between what some of the records show, what a lot of sources are saying and what the Sheriff’s Office is saying,” Branstetter says in the video.

Paid to play a cop?

Bates, an insurance company CEO, contributed $2,500 to the sheriff’s re-election campaign. He has also donated vehicles and video equipment to the Sheriff’s Office.

But Clark has strongly denied accusations that Bates paid to play a cop. He said Bates is one of many volunteers who have contributed to the agency.

“No matter how you cut it up, Deputy Bates met all the criteria on the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training to be in the role that he was in,” he said.

Clark also said the sheriff’s department stands by everything in Bates’ training record and that he completed all the training listed.

Bates is now charged with second-degree manslaughter for Harris’ death. He turned himself in to authorities Tuesday and immediately posted bail of $25,000.