An Oklahoma City police officer fatally shot a man who approached them holding a metal pipe on Tuesday night despite neighbors pleading that he was deaf, according to reports.
According to police Capt. Bo Mathews, 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez did not obey the officers’ commands when they asked him to drop the rod. Even as witnesses at the scene were yelling “he can’t hear you,” the officers moved closer to Sanchez and opened fire at the same time, with Sgt. Chris Barnes using his gun and Lt. Matthew Lindsey with his Taser.
According to reports, the police who were responsible for the shooting were responding to a report of a hit-and-run accident at around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday. They found a vehicle matching the description of one of the cars with at Sanchez’s house and they came there to find Sanchez on the porch holding the 2-foot-long pipe.
One of the neighbors, Julio Rayos was quoted saying that in addition to being deaf, Sanchez also had developmental disabilities and didn’t speak. He communicated non-verbally — mainly through hand movements.
“He don’t speak, he don’t hear, mainly it is hand movements. That’s how he communicates,” Rayos told reporters. “I believe he was frustrated trying to tell them what was going on.”
“I don’t think they had to shoot him,” Rayos added.
The victim had no apparent criminal record and was a resident alien from Mexico who was living with his family in the neighborhood for almost five years.
Another neighbor, Jolie Guebara, who lived two houses from the shooting scene, said Sanchez always carried the rod he had with him at the time of the shooting.
“He always had a stick that he would walk around with because there’s a lot of stray dogs,” Guebara said. She added that he used to communicate with her and her husband by writing notes when he would visit them.
Rayos told the New York Times that more than six shots were heard in rapid succession. “They seemed like they just came to shoot him,” he said. “It happened so quickly.”
Addressing reporters after the incident, Matthews said: “In those situations, very volatile situations, you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision, or you can really lock in to just the person that has the weapon that’d be the threat against you. I don’t know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point.”
Oklahoma Association of the Deaf treasurer, JR Reininger told News 9 through an interpreter: “I don’t know why this situation so quickly escalated….