OKCPD Chief on Sanchez shooting: 'Impossible for them to not know they were police'
The chief of the Oklahoma City Police Department offered his condolences to the family of a deaf man killed in an officer-involved shooting.
Chief Bill Citty addressed the media Sept. 21, two days after the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez. On Sept. 18, officers were investigating a hit and run crash at SE 57 and Shields. Officers tracked down the vehicle that fled the scene to a home and were met by Sanchez on the front porch.
Police say Sanchez, who is deaf, was wielding a 2-foot pipe designed as a weapon and did not comply with officers to drop the weapon. Lt. Matthew Lindsey fired a taser and Sgt. Christopher Barnes fired his weapon as Sanchez advanced at them. Sanchez died after being struck by the gunfire. Witnesses on scene report they were telling the officers that Sanchez could not hear them.
"I give my condolences to the Sanchez family," Citty said. "This is something that is tragic either way."
Sanchez's father was later determined to be the man behind the wheel that fled the scene. Police believe he did not have a driver's license. Surveillance video of the crash appears to show Sanchez's vehicle run a stop sign before the collision that rolled the truck completely over. Sanchez then left the scene, sparking the incident. The elder Sanchez is expected to be charged with a misdemeanor in connection to the crash.
Citty says that both officers vehicles were clearly visible to Sanchez prior to the shooting and that both were wearing OKCPD uniforms.
"It would be almost impossible for them not to know...they were police officers," Citty said.
Citty says that only one of the two prongs of Lt. Lindsey's taser hit Sanchez. The taser requires both prongs to hit the subject to be effective. Sanchez's father was in the front yard of the home during the shooting, but Citty says he only speaks Spanish and could not understand the officers.
Neither officer was wearing a body camera at the time of the shooting. Citty says that 200 additionals body cameras have been ordered and are not yet available to the department.
Sgt. Barnes has yet to be interviewed in the case. He will be interviewed next week.
Citty has reportedly reached out to the Oklahoma Association of the Deaf to request a meeting and possibly develop a task force to help officers deal with deaf individuals in the field.