For the first time, the family of a deaf man shot by an Oklahoma City officer is speaking out.
The attorneys for Magdiel Sanchez’s family say they just want a fair, impartial investigation into this shooting, and they do not believe the Oklahoma City Police Department is capable of that. During a press conference, the family was surrounded by their legal team, the NAACP, representatives from the Mexican consulate and their friends, and together they are calling for justice.
Local NAACP chapter president Garland Pruitt says, “If I got a ticket, give me a ticket. If I break the law, let me go to court. You don’t kill me on the street.”
The family wants to see the OSBI or another outside agency conduct an independent investigation of the incident, but that decision is up to the district attorney. The Sanchezes' attorneys fear the case is already tainted because the police chief has said publicly that Sgt. Chris Barnes had “tunnel vision” and could not hear neighbors yelling that Magdiel was deaf before he fired the fatal shot.
“If you couldn’t hear nine or 10 people saying this guy is deaf, and all you can think about is, ‘I’m going to shoot this guy from 15 feet away’, then the question that I want you to ask is how are you qualified to be a police officer?” asks attorney Damario Solomon-Simmons.
The group is calling for more training for officers, both in less-lethal tactics and interactions with citizens with physical and mental disabilities. The NAACP says a lack of change in training protocol could impact future relations with the department.
Pruitt adds, “In addition to training, some compassion and sensitivity and concern for basic life should be on the agenda.”
District Attorney David Prater is currently reviewing the case to determine how to proceed in the investigation.
This past week, all commissioned officers went through scheduled annual training focusing on interactions with disabled citizens. The police department says it will be collaborating with the Oklahoma Association for the Deaf on recommendations for better training.