Thursday 24 May 2018

Deaf man shot dead by police as neighbours scream 'he can't hear you'

Magdiel Sanchez was walking towards the officers with a metal pipe when they ordered him to get on the ground, officials claimed

Police turned up at Mr Sanchez’s home after his father was involved in a hit-and-run, officials said
Police turned up at Mr Sanchez’s home after his father was involved in a hit-and-run, officials said

Jeff Farrell

A deaf man holding a pipe on his porch was shot dead by police who ordered him to get on the ground as locals shouted that he couldn’t hear them.

Magdiel Sanchez was hit by at least one bullet and Tasered when police turned up at his home, at Shields Boulevard in Oklahoma City in the US, after his father was involved in a hit-and-run.

The first officer to arrive believed the 2ft-long pipe Mr Sanchez was holding was a weapon and called for back-up after he allegedly started moving with it, police said.

"When the other unit arrived, verbal commands were being given to this individual to drop the weapon and get on the ground," Captain Bo Mathews said in a press conference.

But Mr Sanchez, 35, continued to move towards the officers, Mr Mathews added.

Julio Rayos, a neighbour, told local news website NewsOk: “We were screaming that he can't hear."

Mr Mathews admitted: "The witnesses were yelling that this person, Mr Sanchez, was deaf, and could not hear. The officers did not know this as the time."

Lieutenant Matthew Lindsey used his Taser on Mr Sanchez when he was 15ft from him, while his back-up Sergeant Chris Barnes shot him “more than one time”, Mr Mathews said.

Mr Sanchez was pronounced dead at the scene on Tuesday night, US local time.

Mr Mathews defended the two officers.

“In those situations, very volatile situations when you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision, or you could really lock in to just the person that has the weapon that made the threat against you,” Mr Mathews told reporters. “They very well could not have heard everybody yelling around them.”

Mr Rayos said Mr Sanchez had learning disabilities.

"The guy does movements," he told NewsOk. "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.

"I don't think they had to shoot him," he added.

Mr Sanchez’s father, who was not named, had earlier been involved in a hit-and-run but his car had not struck anyone, Mr Mathews said, adding that he was not aware if there had been any injuries.

Mr Sanchez had not been in the car, in the incident just a block away, and had no criminal history, officials said.

His father confirmed to the police that his son was deaf.

The two officers have been put on administrative leave while the killing of Mr Sanchez is being investigated as a possible manslaughter or murder case.

Independent News Service

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