Oklahoma City Police Shoot and Kill Deaf Man

On†a Tuesday evening in Oklahoma City, police approached Magdiel Sanchez on his porch. The officers were†responding to a hit-and-run that reportedly happened nearby.

Sanchez was holding a 2-foot metal pipe that had an attached leather loop. Immediately, Lt. Matthew Lindsey called for backup; soon, Sgt. Christopher Barnes was also on the scene. They then drew weapons on Sanchez, ordering him to drop the pipe and get to the ground.

Sanchez began moving towards†them, while the officers continued to shout orders at him. Neighbors who witnessed the incident say they and others frantically yelled to the officers that Sanchez was hard-of-hearing†and could not understand them.

When Sanchez was 15 feet away, Barnes opened fire, shooting more than once. Some witnesses say there were as many as seven shots. Emergency responders found Sanchez to be dead after they arrived.

Few would deny that this is a tragic turn of events. However, there is absolutely no good reason this encounter had to result in the death of an innocent man.

One officer, Lindsey, was armed with a Taser while Barnes carried a gun. Though Tasers can be problematic — they†can sometimes prove deadly — they are far less likely to be fatal compared to lead bullets. Why, then, did Barnes fire upon Sanchez?

Perhaps more importantly: Why did the officers†feel sufficiently threatened to shoot Sanchez at all? Not only was he a full 15 feet from the them, but he was also holding nothing more than a metal bar. Sure, such a blunt force weapon could cause serious injuries Ė- but with two officers on the scene, was Sanchez really that much of a threat?

Worse still is that onlookers tried to communicate with these officers that Sanchez could not understand their orders. Why did they not listen?

The truly tragic finding after the incident was that Sanchez was not only hearing impaired, but he also had developmental disabilities and was wholly non-verbal, communicating through signing and other hand gestures.

Barnesí gross overreaction demonstrates, yet again, an undeniable trend found among too many American law enforcement officers: an eagerness to use lethal force at even the slightest indication of danger, in addition to an incredible lack of understanding of disability.

There are many, many Americans with a variety of disabilities that make interaction and communication difficult. Why must this also place them at risk of harm by those who are sworn to protect and serve them?

Barnes is currently on paid leave while an investigation is carried out to determine whether he was justified in ending Sanchezí life. This is a story Americans have seen played out all too often†– it would be unusual if Barnes was charged, let alone convicted.

Until those decisions are made, Barnes will remain on paid vacation. Meanwhile, his police department, like so many others in the United States, will no doubt keep in place the same polices that permit — and arguably, even encourage — a problematic shoot-first mentality.

Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary/Flickr

48 comments

heather g
heather g17 days ago

There's room for urgent change here.

SEND
Jennifer H
Jennifer H1 months ago

More gun happy cops. Charge and fire them.

SEND
Dandelion G
Dandelion G1 months ago

I recall a couple of years ago a deaf mute Native American man was shot to death as the police officer yelled at him to stop as he was walking. The officer was behind him so the Indian man didn't even see him let alone hear him. He was shot because he had a pocket whittling knife. He supported himself by carving and well known in the area.

There was another instance where a Counselor was shot trying to get the teenager he was in charge of out of the street. The child was autistic and had a toy boat in his hand. The Officer was shooting at the autistic child and missed shooting his Counselor instead. Thankfully, that time, it wasn't a fatal shot.

This happens way too many times, our disabled are constantly being shot by police who should be protecting them. Bad enough the disabled are made fun of and are attacked by the public in general but now our police are killing them.

SEND
Brian F
Brian F1 months ago

The police officers could have tasered him. The 21-year-old kid who was killed recently by campus police is another classic example of the police using excess and unnecessary force. When an individual has no gun or has a knife, bat or metal bar, and is surrounded by more than one police officer, like this deaf guy was, than tasers should be used, and guns only as a last resort. The police in America are on a power trip, and think that they have the right to kill anyone, for any reason, because they know they will get away with it, like officer Jeronimo Yanez, who murdered Philando Castile, and got $48,000 to quit the force. Unfortunately, our taxes will pay the multimillion dollar settlement for the victim’s family as is standard practice. The police in America are completely corrupt and out of control, and can kill anyone at any time and get paid leave, while a phony internal affairs investigation clears them of all charges. No wonder football players take a knee. Our police are completely corrupt, and above the law.

SEND
Michelle Spradley
Michelle Spradley1 months ago

It sounds as though there were bad decisions all around this tragedy. It seems as though the deaf man recognized that the officers were speaking to him, no doubt with their guns drawn, and that the neighbors trying to help were overzealously hollering over one another. If the deaf man had put down the pipe and began signing to the officers and just one neighbor approached slowly while telling the officers the man was deaf the officers would not have felt overwhelmed and possibly been slower to react. Death is one heck of a learning curve.

SEND
Magdalen B
Magdalen B1 months ago

Today police, in Bristol, in England, fired several shots into a car and killed a man.Bloody hell. Our cops have been watching too much American telly.

SEND
Janet B
Janet B1 months ago

Thanks

SEND
Kay M
Kay M1 months ago

Good afternoon and thank you for this article--O.M.G.----THIS IS HORRIFIC -this bad cop should not be on paid leave-0 he should be fired- then arrest for premeditated first degree murder of a deaf- mental disabled man with a metal object- not a gun-not a knife- both bad cops made a choice -instead of either using a tazer to stop him or to shoot the object out of his hand- BUT NO THEY MURDERED HIM IN COLD BLOOD---THE WHOLE TIME ALL THE NEIGHBORS WERE TELLING THEM HE WAS DEAF- THEY WERE NOT CALLED THERE FOR A DANGEROUS PERSON REPORT -THEY WERE CALLED THERE TO TAKE A REPORT ON A HIT AND RUN BY AUTO- SO THEY HAD NO BUSINESS EVEN BOTHERING THIS MAN ON HIS OWN PORCH- I AM MORE DISCUSSED BY THE POLICE EVERY DAY - THEY ARE GETTING MORE MURDEROUS AND CRUELER -they murder woman - who call for help - the murder children playing with toys-they murder kids and adults in cars - AND NEVER EVER PAY THE PRICE---THE GET OFF SCOTT FREE THAT IS WHY THEY KEEP DOING IT- AND WILL CONTINUE TILL THE POLICE AND COURTS DO THEIR JOBS AND ARREST THE CROOKED COPS AND PUT THEM ON TRIAL FOR 1ST DEGREE MURDER AND HAVE JURIES FIND THEM GUILTY AND SEND THEM TO JAIL FOR LIFE WITHOUT CHANCE FOR PAROLE --PERIOD- WE WANT JUSTICE FOR ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS NOT JUST WHITE MEN- GIVE JUSTICE TO THE WOMAN VICTIMS AND BLACK-AND - HISPANIC- sincerely KAY M.

SEND
Lenore K
Lenore K1 months ago

no

SEND
Glennis Whitney
Glennis W1 months ago

Deplorable and despicable Gutless Bastards KARMA they even shoot Australian woman too Thank yo for caring and sharing

SEND