On Tuesday (September 19), Sergeant Christopher Barnes with the Oklahoma City Police Department shot and killed 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez. Per the department, it is the city’s fifth officer-involved shooting of the year.
Per the department’s press statement, Sanchez was a suspect in a hit and run. When the officers—first Lieutenant Matthew Lindsey, and then Barnes who was called in for backup—went to his home, Sanchez walked into the front yard with what they are describing as a “pipe” in his hand. They told him to drop it, and when he didn’t, Lindsey deployed his Taser and Barnes shot his gun, hitting Sanchez more than once. He was about 15 feet away from the officers when they discharged their weapons. He died on the scene.
But, as the department’s public information officer, Captain Bo Mathews, confirmed yesterday (September 20) during the press conference below, witnesses told officers that Sanchez was deaf and could not hear their commands.
“We were screaming that he can’t hear,” witness Julio Rayos told The Oklahoman. “The guy does movements,” Rayos said. “He don’t speak, he don’t hear, mainly it is hand movements. That’s how he communicates. I believe he was frustrated trying to tell them what was going on.”
Mathews blamed “tunnel vision” during the press conference. “In those situations, very volatile situations, when you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision or you can really lock into just the person that has the weapon that’d be the threat against you,” he said, as reported by NPR. “I don’t know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point, because I was not there. But they very well could not have heard, you know, everybody yelling, everybody yelling around them.”
Rayos told press that Sanchez, who hailed from Mexico, lived on the block for about five years. He added that the family is planning to hire an attorney.