Robert Bates Speaks Out: 'I Had No Desire to Ever Take Anyone's Life'

"This was not an intentional thing."

Robert Bates appeared with his family and lawyer this morning on the Today show.

He said, "First and foremost, let me apologize to the family of Eric Harris. This was not an intentional thing. I had no desire to ever take anyone's life."

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Matt Lauer asked him, “What were you thinking when you heard the shot?”

Bates replied, "Oh my God. What has happened?

The video shows the fleeing suspect, Eric Courtney Harris, being taken down by deputies in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  

Bates says he intended to subdue the suspect with his non-lethal taser. But he shot him instead.

During his interview with Lauer, 73-year-old Bates demonstrated where he keeps his gun and taser.

He said, "My taser is right here, in the front, tucked into a protective vest. My gun itself is on the side. Normally to the rear."

Bates is a wealthy insurance executive who has donated to the Sherriff's Department. Some have speculated that in return for his friendship he was allowed to play cop.  

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Lauer asked, “You have been portrayed as a wealthy and generous supporter of the Sherriff’s Department and a close friend of the Sherriff who has been rewarded for your financial support with the opportunity and this is what's out there, to play cop, and carry a gun. Is that a fair characterization?”
“That is unbelievably unfair,” he told Lauer.

His wife and daughters comforted him throughout the interview.