(OKLAHOMA CITY) — An Oklahoma City man was fatally shot by police as neighbors shouted that the man could not hear officers’ commands to drop a metal pipe he was holding, police said.
The incident occurred Tuesday evening after an accident led officers to a house where Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was outside on the porch, Oklahoma City Police Capt. Bo Mathews said at a press conference Wednesday.
The pipe Sanchez was carrying had been fashioned into a fairly large weapon, resembling a club, Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said in a press conference Thursday afternoon. The pipe had been tied to Sanchez’s wrist so that it wouldn’t come out of his hand when used, Citty said.
Officers were acting on information from a witness who told police where they could find a green truck allegedly involved in the accident, in which the truck hit something and drove off. No person was struck in the collision.
Sanchez’s family has hired Oklahoma City lawyer Melvin Hall, who represented the family of police-shooting victim Terrance Crutcher in 2016, to represent them, according to local ABC affiliate KOCO-TV. Hall plans to hold a news conference with the family, as well as local Catholic and Hispanic organizations, Friday afternoon to bring more attention to the incident.
The shooting took place after police Lt. Matthew Lindsey arrived at the location identified by the witness and found a green truck allegedly matching the description from the accident parked there.
Sanchez was on the porch of the home when he advanced to the front yard holding what Mathews said was a pipe in his right hand.
The police officer called for backup, and another officer, Sgt. Christopher Barnes, arrived, after which both officers shouted to Sanchez to drop the pipe he was carrying as he proceeded forward, Mathews said.
The officers didn’t hear neighbors at the scene yelling to them that Sanchez couldn’t hear them, Mathews said.
“As he started going toward these officers with a pipe in his hand, the officers discharged their weapons,” Captain Mathews said.
Lindsey fired his taser at the suspect, and Barnes shot his gun, hitting Sanchez.
Mathews said Sanchez received medical attention after he was shot, but was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sanchez’s father, who had allegedly been the driver of the green truck in the accident, confirmed after the shooting that his son was deaf, Mathews said. The son was not involved, he said.
Barnes, the officer who used the gun, is on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, Mathews said.
KOCO-TV obtained cellphone video from a neighbor of Sanchez who said the footage was taken moments after the shooting. The neighbor, Julio Rayos, told the station that he screamed at officers that Sanchez was deaf. Rayos said he believes Sanchez may have been confused by the encounter with police.
Rayos told The Oklahoman on Wednesday that in addition to being deaf, Sanchez was developmentally disabled and didn’t speak, communicating mainly through hand movements. Rayos said he believes Sanchez became frustrated by trying to communicate with the police.
“The guy does movements,” Rayos told the newspaper. “He don’t speak, he don’t hear; mainly it is hand movements. That’s how he communicates. I believe he was frustrated trying to tell them what was going on.”
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