(Getty/carlballou)

Oklahoma cops shoot, kill deaf man despite pleas from neighbors

Neighbors screamed that Magdiel Sanchez couldn't hear their commands. But cops shot the 35-year-old anyway


Charlie May
September 21, 2017 3:46PM (UTC)

A deaf man was fatally shot by Oklahoma City police, even after cries from numerous neighbors who told the officers about the man's disability.

An officer responding to a hit-and-run call pulled up at the house where Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was outside on his porch, according to The New York Times. The officer called for backup, pulled out his stun gun and ordered Sanchez to drop a two-foot pipe that he had in his hand.

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Sanchez, who is deaf, could not hear the officer's commands and walked off the porch waving the pipe to try to communicate with the officer.

A neighbor, Julio Rayos — who lives a couple houses away from Sanchez — ran over to the officer with his 12-year-old daughter in order to get the officer's attention and explain why Sanchez wasn't receptive.

"Don’t kill him, he’s deaf," his daughter yelled, the Times reported. "Don’t do it!"

Other neighbors also tried to get the officer's attention but a second officer arrived at the scene less than a minute into the incident and quickly drew his gun. As neighbors screamed, according to the Times, the first officer used his stun gun, and the second officer shot Sanchez.

"They seemed like they just came to shoot him," Rayos said, who added that he heard more than six quick shots. "It happened so quickly."

Sanchez posed no threat, according to those in the neighborhood who knew him, the Times noted:

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In the neighborhood, Shields-Davis, just south of downtown Oklahoma City, Mr. Sanchez was known for wandering up and down the streets during the day, even in heavy rain, and running laps in the parking lot of an American Legion post next to his home. He never left home without the pipe, wielding it shoo away stray dogs, Mr. Rayos said.

Mr. Sanchez also used the pipe to communicate with people, moving it around to try to convey what he meant, Mr. Rayos said. It was the same motion Mr. Sanchez made before the police shot him, Mr. Rayos said.

Sgt. Christopher Barnes, the officer who killed Sanchez, was placed on administrative leave, according to the Times. But the first officer remained on active duty, said a spokesman for the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Sanchez had nothing to do with the hit-and-run the officers were responding to; Sanchez's father was driving the vehicle. Police say he drove into something with his pickup truck and then drove off. Sanchez was not in the vehicle, his father said, according to the Associated Press. His father also said he had struck an object, and no one else was involved in the hit-and-run incident.

Matthews also added that he wasn't sure why officers deployed different weapons. "You can get tunnel vision or just get locked in on the person with the weapon," he said, the Times reported. "I don’t know what the officers were thinking. They very well could not have heard everyone yelling around them."

 

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Charlie May

Charlie May is a news writer at Salon. You can find him on Twitter at @charliejmay

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Law Enforcement Brutality Madgiel Sanchez Oklahoma City Police Police Abuse Police Shootings

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