An Oklahoma City police officer shot and killed a deaf man carrying a metal pipe on Tuesday night, despite neighbors screaming that he couldn't hear commands to drop the pipe.
Police Capt. Bo Mathews said Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was Tasered and then shot after he approached officers while holding the pipe; a neighbor told The Associated Press that Sanchez would take the pipe with him while going on walks at night to scare away stray dogs. Officers were at Sanchez's home investigating a hit-and-run that allegedly involved his father. Sanchez was not in the vehicle when the hit-and-run took place, Mathews said, and he had no criminal record.
The 2-foot-long pipe was "wrapped in some type of material" and had a leather loop at the end, Mathews said. Lt. Matthew Lindsey considered the pipe a weapon, and called for backup, Matthews said. After Sgt. Chris Barnes arrived, they both ordered Sanchez to drop the pipe and get to the ground, but Sanchez, not hearing their commands, kept walking forward. Neighbors screamed that Sanchez was deaf and yelled "He can't hear you," Mathews said, but he wasn't sure if officers heard them. "When you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision," Mathews said. "Or you can lock into just the person who has the weapon, the threat against you."
Barnes shot Sanchez when he was 15 feet away, and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Sanchez's father, whose name has not been released, confirmed to police that his son was deaf. The case is being investigated as a homicide, and Barnes has been placed on paid administrative leave, Mathews said. The officers were not wearing body cameras during the incident.