Oklahoma City police shot and killed a 35-year-old deaf man who was carrying a metal pipe and couldn’t hear the officers' commands to put it down.
Magdiel Sanchez was shot and Tasered on his porch Tuesday night by officers responding to calls of a hit-and-run involving his father.
Officers didn’t say what his father hit, but confirmed it wasn’t a person and that Sanchez wasn't in the vehicle during the hit-and-run.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Police Capt. Bo Matthews told reporters that after Sanchez’s father fled the scene the accident, witnesses called 911 with his address.
Lt. Matthew Lindsey was the first officer to respond. He said that when he arrived at the house, Sanchez was on the porch holding a 2-foot-long metal pipe.
A neighbor, Jolie Guebara, told The Associated Press that Sanchez often carried around the pipe to fend off stray dogs when he went for walks at night.
Lindsey feared Sanchez might use the pipe as a weapon and called for backup. After Sgt. Chris Barnes arrived, Matthews said, Sanchez left the porch and began to approach the officers.
"When the other unit arrived, verbal commands were being given to this individual to drop the weapon and get on the ground," Matthews said.
What officers didn’t know was that Sanchez was deaf and couldn’t hear their commands.
Seconds later, the officers opened fire.
"The witnesses were yelling that this person, Mr. Sanchez, was deaf, and could not hear, The officers did not know this as the time."
Lindsey used his Taser at the same time Barnes pulled out his gun and fired multiple times at Sanchez. Neither officer was wearing a body camera.
Sanchez died on the front porch of the home that he shared with his parents.
A neighbor who lived across the street told The Oklahoman that he tried to tell the officers Sanchez was deaf, but it was too late.
"First I heard people from down the block saying, 'He can't hear! He can't hear!' And then I heard the officer say, 'Drop the stick! Drop the weapon! Drop the stick!' That's when I yelled out, 'He's deaf!' And right when I yelled 'he's deaf' it was 'bang, bang, bang.' I mean, the instant I said that, right after that it was 'bang, bang, bang.'"
Sanchez was developmentally disabled and couldn’t speak in addition to being deaf.
Barnes, the officer who fired the fatal shots, is currently on paid administrative leave.
The case is being investigated as a homicide.