The police chief of Oklahoma City said Thursday the fatal shooting of a deaf man has raised “a lot of concerns” about training for officer interaction with people with hearing or speech problems, and he plans to meet with advocates for those who have such impairments.
Chief Bill Citty said the shooting of 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez “is something that’s tragic, either way.” He added that he gives condolences to the Sanchez family.
Officers who responded to a hit-and-run accident Tuesday night encountered Sanchez holding a metal pipe in his right hand. Citty said Sanchez didn’t respond to commands to drop the pipe and was fatally shot.
Surveillance video obtained by KOCO News 5 shows the hit-and-run. A pickup truck collides with a car. As the car hits the pickup in its side, the truck rolls over and then comes to rest in an upright position on its wheels. The car doesn’t stop and the pickup drives away, too.
A witness that followed the pickup led police to an address where Sanchez’s father, who was driving the truck, had parked the vehicle.
Officers arrived at the home and Sanchez was outside holding a metal pipe. Witnesses there yelled “he can’t hear you” before the officers fired, but they didn’t hear them saying that, police said.
One officer fired a Taser and the other a gun. Sgt. Chris Barnes, the one who shot the gun, is on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Meanwhile, Sanchez family spokesman Julio Rayos told The Associated Press on Thursday that attorney Melvin C. Hall has been hired to represent the family. Hall, who specializes in employment law and civil rights cases, was an attorney for the family of Terence Crutcher, who was fatally shot in September 2016 by Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby.
The 40-year-old Crutcher, who was black and unarmed, was shot by Shelby after she encountered him on a road where his SUV was stopped. Shelby, who is white, was acquitted of first-degree manslaughter. Crutcher’s family has filed a lawsuit over his killing.