Authorities in Oklahoma City fatally shot a deaf man who reportedly had a metal pipe in his hand. The police thought he was moving toward them with the object, while witnesses were yelling that the man was deaf, reports NPR.
Officers were responding to a hit-and-run incident at around 8:15 p.m. A witness allegedly informed the police that a vehicle with a nearby address was involved in the collision.
When Lt. Matthew Lindsey arrived at the home, he spotted 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez on a porch, holding a 2-foot metal pipe with a leather loop in his right hand. Lindsey immediately called for backup.
They ordered for Sanchez to put the weapon down and get on the ground. The police department’s public information officer, Capt. Bo Matthews, said both officers on the scene had weapons on them, like a taser and a gun.
“The witnesses also were yelling that this person, Mr. Sanchez, was deaf and could not hear. The officers didn’t know this at the time,” Matthews said.
Reportedly, both officers shot at Sanchez when he was 15 feet away from them. EMS pronounced him dead at the scene.
“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,” Matthews continued.
“We were screaming that he can’t hear,” witness Julio Rayos told The Oklahoman. He also told the newspaper that Sanchez had developmental impairments and couldn’t talk.
“The guy does movements,” Rayos continued. “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.”
Matthews also said Sanchez did not have a previous criminal record and that Magdiel’s father was driving the car involved with the hit-and-run. Sanchez was not in the vehicle at the time of the incident.
Lt. Christopher Barnes, who was involved in the shooting, is being placed on paid administrative leave. The occurrence is being investigated as a criminal case by the department’s homicide unit.
Further details are pending.