Oklahoma City police officers who opened fire on a man who was approaching them holding a metal pipe apparently didn’t hear witnesses yelling that the man was deaf, the department said Wednesday.
Police Capt. Bo Mathews said 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez wasn’t obeying the officers’ commands before one shot him with a gun and the other with a Taser on Tuesday night. He said witnesses were yelling “he can’t hear you” before the officers fired, but the officers didn’t hear them.
Sanchez 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 about 8:15 p.m. 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 the metal pipe, which had a leather loop on one end.
Lindsey called for backup, and Barnes arrived. When Lindsey fired his Taser and Barnes fired his gun, Sanchez was about 15 feet away from them, Mathews said.
Mathews said Sanchez’s father, who was driving the hit-and-run vehicle, confirmed after the shooting that his son was deaf. He said Sanchez wasn’t in the vehicle when his father struck something and drove off. It wasn’t a person he struck.
Neighbor Jolie Guebara told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Sanchez, whose name she didn’t know, used notes to communicate with her and her husband. She said he often carried a stick to ward off stray dogs when he walked at night.
Police initially said Sanchez was carrying a stick, but Mathews said Wednesday it was a metal pipe with a leather loop on one end.