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Bates gun trigger 'unbelievably light'

Posted at 9:45 PM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-14 09:04:52-04

TULSA - An affidavit filed in a federal lawsuit against former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz and others drew swift response from defense attorneys in the criminal trial of Robert Bates.

According to the affidavit, signed by gunsmith Michael Hardison, the manager at a Tulsa shooting range instructed him to modify a gun by "reducing the amount of force required to discharge the weapon." He said the gun was a .357 model 340 - the same gun former volunteer deputy Bates confused with his Taser during an ill-fated undercover operation to buy a firearm from Eric Harris.

Bates has pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter in Harris' death. His trial begins next week.

Hardison said that last month, Eric Fuson asked him to modify the gun by reducing the amount of force required to fire it. Hardison said he had "a problem" with modifying a gun that would be evidence in a trial.

Clark Brewster, lead defense attorney for Bates, explained to the court in a pre-trial hearing Tuesday the defense's modification of the gun. He said the intent was to make it exactly like the gun used on April 2.

"Knowing we could not have the actual gun for our experts and for our own demonstrative, we went and bought that exact gun," Brewster said according to court transcripts, "I sent it over to 2A Shooting Center and asked if they could make it a lighter trigger pull so we could have the same kind of feel."

Brewster told the judge he and others noticed the trigger pull on Bates' personal gun was "unbelievably light," so he had a gunsmith alter it and add laser grips to allow defense experts to handle an exact copy of the gun in evidence as they prepared for trial.

Prosecutors said they had no idea what the trigger-pull weight of Bates' gun was. They objected to using the replica because the actual firearm was in evidence. According to transcripts, Brewster agreed that the replica gun should not be used in court.

Attorney Corbin Brewster told 2 Works for You defense attorneys had no intent manipulate the jury.

Eric Harris' estate filed a federal lawsuit against former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz in January. Hardison's affidavit was filed as part of that lawsuit.

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