The man shot dead by police in Oklahoma City on Tuesday was deaf, it has emerged. Witnesses say that bystanders told the officers the man could not hear, but they opened fire anyway.
Officers were responding to a reported hit-and-run on Tuesday night and sighted a vehicle matching the description they had been given.
They confronted a man standing near the car holding a stick, who did not respond to their warnings.
One officer shot Magdiel Sanchez, 35, with a Taser while another shot him with his handgun, Police Captain Bo Mathews told reporters.
Witnesses were yelling “he can’t hear you” before the officers fired, but the officers didn’t hear them, Mathews said.
Sanchez was pronounced dead at the scene.
Local residents later said that Sanchez was deaf, and that they tried to warn the police about his condition.
“We have lived in the neighborhood for 13 years so we knew him… and we knew that he was deaf,” one of the witnesses told the Daily Mail. “As the cops tried to approach him, my husband, my daughter and I were all screaming at the police that he was deaf.”
A neighbor told AP that Sanchez was either deaf or hard of hearing, and carried a stick with him as protection from stray dogs.
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Another local resident said that Sanchez used written notes to communicate, adding that she often saw him with the stick.
The police have launched an investigation into the shooting, with the officer who fired his gun placed on administrative leave.