Oklahoma Police Killed a Deaf Man as Neighbors Tried to Tell Them That ‘He Can’t Hear’

Police in Oklahoma City are coming under fire for fatally shooting 35-year-old Magdiel Sanchez on the front porch of his home.

Sanchez was a suspect in a hit-and-run car collision and, when confronted by police, produced what appeared to be a metal pipe. Police shouted at him to drop the weapon and get on the ground as neighbors pleaded with them to stop, telling them that Sanchez is deaf and could not hear the orders. Police fired anyway. One officer used his taser; the other used his firearm, killing Sanchez.

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“We were screaming that he can’t hear,” neighbor Julio Rayos told the Oklahoman. “The guy does movements. 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.”

Neighbors told The New York Times that Sanchez carried the pipe with him regularly to use as both a communication tool (he would wave it around and gesture with it) and also to protect himself from stray dogs in the area.

“This case is a criminal case, being investigated by our homicide unit,” Police Captain Bo Matthews told reporters. “They’re gathering any witnesses they can. They’ve interviewed quite a few already.”

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The officer who shot Sanchez has been placed on administrative leave while the investigation takes place.

Sanchez had no criminal record.

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