Deaf Man Shot By Police For Not Hearing Their Commands

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Oklahoma police shot a deaf man for failing to drop a weapon as the neighbors shouted, "he can't hear you!" The police had been investigating a nonfatal hit-and-run report involving the man's father when the incident occurred.

The victim, 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez, was sitting on the front porch holding a 2-foot-long metal pipe when the police arrived around 8:15 p.m on Sept. 19.

One of the officers, Lt. Matthew Lindsey, said the pipe was "wrapped in some type of material" with a small leather loop on the end, according to NBC News.

Lindsey reportedly asked Sanchez repeatedly to drop his weapon along with Sgt. Chris Barnes, who was also on the scene.

Sanchez began to advance towards the officers. When he was about 15 feet away, they opened fire -- Lindsey shot Sanchez with a taser while Barnes fired a fatal gunshot.

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Oklahoma City Police Capt. Bo Mathews said at a news conference on Sept. 20 that the officers could not hear neighbors shouting that Sanchez could not hear them before opening fire.

Matthews was not sure why Barnes chose to fire his gun or if he had any other weapons he could have used. Neither of the officers had body cameras.

"In those situations, very volatile situations, you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision, or you can really lock in to just the person that has the weapon that'd be the threat against you," Mathews said, The Associated Press reports. "I don't know exactly what the officers were thinking at that point."

Barnes has been placed on administrative leave.

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Sanchez had no criminal record. He is also reported to have been developmentally disabled and mostly used his hands to communicate.

"He don't speak, he don't hear, mainly it is hand movements," a neighbor of the victim told The Oklahoman newspaper on Sept. 20, according to AP. "That's how he communicates. I believe he was frustrated trying to tell them what was going on."

Another neighbor of Sanchez's told AP she heard five or six gunshots on the night of his death.

She explained that he carried the metal pipe to fend off stray dogs when he went out for a walk, and that he would write notes to communicate with her and her husband. Although she did not know her neighbor's name, she said he would occasionally stop and visit them if he saw them outside.

Sources: AP via US News & World Report, NBC News / Featured Image: Oklahoma City Police Department/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons, Ipholio/Wikimedia Commons

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