September 20, 2017 / 8:03 PM / 3 months ago

Oklahoma City police fatally shoot deaf man who did not respond to commands

(Reuters) - A deaf man holding a metal pipe was fatally shot by Oklahoma City police who yelled for him to drop his weapon and get on the ground but did not know he could not hear, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.

An investigation into a hit-and-run accident on Tuesday night led officers to a residence where Magdiel Sanchez, 35, was on the porch, Oklahoma City police spokesman Captain Bo Mathews said during a news conference.

Sanchez was holding a 2-foot-long metal pipe that was wrapped in material and had a leather loop at the end, Mathews told reporters.

Witnesses, who heard the officers yelling commands, shouted that Sanchez was deaf, Mathews said.

Sanchez came off the porch and approached the officers with the pipe in his hand, he said.

Sergeant Christopher Barnes had a weapon drawn and Lieutenant Matthew Lindsey had a Taser drawn. They both fired, hitting Sanchez who was 15 feet away, Mathews said.

“In those situations, very volatile situations when you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision, or you could really lock in to just the person that has the weapon that made the threat against you,” Mathews told reporters. “They very well could not have heard everybody yelling around them.”

Sanchez was given medical attention and pronounced dead at the scene, Mathews said.

Barnes, who has eight years of service, has been placed on paid administrative leave, police said. Neither officer was wearing a body camera.

The incident is being investigated by the homicide unit, Mathews said. The unit will turn over information about the case to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office, which will decide if the shooting was justified, he said.

Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Peter Cooney

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