Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Witnesses yell 'he can't hear you' as cop shoots deaf man

Published:Thursday | September 21, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Magdiel Sanchez

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP):

Oklahoma City police officers who opened fire on a man in front of his home as he approached them holding a metal pipe didn't hear witnesses yelling that he was deaf, a department official said yesterday.

Magdiel Sanchez, 35, wasn't obeying the officers' commands before one shot him with a gun and the other with a Taser on Tuesday night, police Captain Bo Mathews said at a news conference. He said witnesses were yelling "he can't hear you" before the officers fired, but they didn't hear them.

"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," Mathews said. "I don't know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point."

Sanchez, who had no apparent criminal history, died at the scene. The officer who fired the gun, Sgt Chris Barnes, has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Mathews said the officers were investigating a reported hit-and-run at around 8:15 p.m. on Tuesday. He said a witness told Lt Matthew Lindsey the address where the vehicle responsible for the hit-and-run had gone and that Sanchez was on the porch when Lindsey arrived.

He said Sanchez was holding a metal pipe that was approximately two feet (0.6 metres) long and that had a leather loop on one end for wrapping around one's wrist. Lindsey called for backup and Barnes arrived, at which point Sanchez left the porch and began to approach the officers, Mathews said.

Witnesses could hear the officers giving Sanchez commands, but the officers didn't hear the witnesses yelling that Sanchez couldn't hear them, Mathews said. When he was about 15 feet (4.5 metres) away from the officers, they opened fire Lindsey with his Taser and Barnes with his gun, apparently simultaneously, Mathews said.

He said he didn't know how many shots were fired but that it was more than one.