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Graphic bodycam footage: Lawton’s police killing of unarmed Quadry Sanders has sparked concerns that Lawton Police Department engages in a pattern and practice of violating the federal civil rights of the community’s Black citizens.
Two Lawton, Oklahoma police officers were charged with First Degree Manslaughter on Friday as the release of bodycam footage on Mother’s Day weekend shows Quadry Sanders being gunned down despite having his hands up.
Former LPD officers Nathan Ronan and Robert Hinkle had already been fired in January, a month after the shooting took place, but Lawton Police Chief James Smith previously said he would not release footage of the incident until after the District Attorney had made a determination.
On Friday, Comanche County District Attorney Kyle Cabelka announced the officers have been charged with manslaughter, KSWO reported. Meanwhile, the family’s civil rights attorney, Lee Merritt, is demanding the charges be upgraded to murder after the release of the graphic bodycam footage.
“Yes, it was an execution,” Attorney Lee Merritt told The Black Wall Street Times when asked about the shooting. Representing the family, Merritt said they won’t stop until prosecutors elevate the charge to murder and successfully prosecute former officers Ronan and Hinkle.
“When they encountered Sanders they instructed him to put his hands up to which he complied. While his hands were in the air Hinkle shot Sanders 4 times. When he dropped to the ground he was instructed to put his hands back in the air. When he did he was fired on 13 more times,” attorney Merritt posted on Instagram.
Graphic bodycam footage shows Quadry Sanders gunned down with his hands up
On Dec. 5, LPD responded to a series of 911 calls coming from the 1800 block of N.W. Lincoln Ave. The calls claimed that Sanders was violating a protective order and waving a gun around at his girlfriend’s house, with whom he shares six children.
Yet, his girlfriend acknowledged that she had previously dropped the order and had asked Sanders to come over as they were in the process of getting back together, according to a report from KSWO.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. that evening, officers arrived on the scene and called for Sanders to exit the home.
Officers used a PA system to command Quadry Sanders to step outside. Video of the incident shows Quadry emerging from the home moments later, holding a hat in one hand. Officers immediately yell, “Hands! Hands! Down! Down!”
Quadry, appearing confused, steps back toward the house then places his hands up. Officers immediately fire shots as he screams and falls to the ground.
While he’s screaming in agony, officers continue to yell “Down! Down! Hands!”
Having already been shot multiple times, Quadry Sanders still attempts to comply. He places his hands in the air while on the ground. As soon as his hands go up, officers fire more shots at him.
“I’m down,” Sanders manages to say as he tries crawling toward the house with his hands up.
As officers order him to roll over, he says “I can’t breathe.” Moments later officers handcuff Sanders as he lies on the ground bleeding and moaning.
The officers then dragged a bleeding, dying Quadry Sanders across the cold, hard ground before handcuffing him.
The medical examiner’s report said he was shot 12 times.
As he lay dying, moaning his last breaths, Officer Hinkle yelled, “Quit reaching.”
Moments later, the bodycam footage showed Officer Ronan saying “he should’ve listened.”
Officer Hinkle then asks Ronan, “could you see it?”
“I didn’t see nothing from where I was at,” Ronan replies.
“This may be the worst police shooting I’ve seen in my entire life—and I’ve seen and closely studied over 500 cases at this point,” journalist and national organizer Shaun King posted on Instagram.
Nathan Ronan has a history of killing Black Lawtonians
On January 7, Lawton’s City Manager Michael Cleghorn announced the two officers involved in the shooting were fired following an internal investigation. Since then, four months passed before the city released footage of the shooting.
“The City of Lawton, to include the Lawton Police Department, firmly believes in policing itself in the same manner the community is policed and holds itself to the highest possible standards,” Cleghorn said in January. “The actions of these officers were not in conformance with the Lawton Police Department’s well-established training protocols, policies, practices, customs or procedures.”
Notably, Nathan Ronan was the same officer who shot and killed Zonterius Johnson on the night he was celebrating his 24th birthday, almost exactly one year before the shooting of Quadry Sanders.
Previously, we highlighted how footage from that incident showed Nathan Ronan chasing Zonterius Johnson down a dark alley after responding to reports of shots fired outside an establishment.
Ronan repeatedly yelled for Mr. Johnson to stop as he is chased him onto Tenth Street. As he catches up to Johnson, the officer yells, “You better stop.” The grainy footage shows Johnson attempting to remove something from his waist before he is gunned down.
Zonterius Johnson’s mother, Meyoshia Gray, told The Black Wall Street Times last year that she believes LPD has been deceptive with the release of information. Specifically, she claims the full video has been edited.
“Zon did not point a gun, which they say he did,” Johnson’s mom said.
To be clear, the first report from LPD back in January 2021 clearly stated that “when the officer encountered Zonterius Johnson, Zonterius Johnson drew that weapon.”
Yet, in the grainy video, it isn’t clear whether Johnson was raising a weapon or attempting to follow the officer’s commands.
While the DA closed that case, following the release of bodycam depicting the killing of Quadry Sanders, Zonterius’ mother said she is demanding the DA reopen her son’s case, according to local media.
Family creates gofundme to reconnect Quadry Sanders’ children.
For Attorney Lee Merritt and national civil rights activist Shaun King, the killing of Quadry Sanders represents a clear violation of his right to life. It raises concerns that without federal oversight, Lawton Police Department will continue to brutalize Black residents with minimal accountability.
The family has started a gofundme in hopes of getting custody of Sanders’ children.
The family, which is forced to go through Mother’s Day without a loving son and father, also seek funds from the Oklahoma Crime Victims Compensation Fund.
Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, twin sister of Terence Crutcher, who was murdered by Tulsa police while unarmed in 2016, also expressed her support and love for the family.
“We are heartbroken by the unjust killing of Quadry Sanders. This Mother’s Day weekend, we have jumped in to help the community of Lawton and Mr. Sander’s mother because we know the feeling of a mom losing her son to police violence,” Dr. Crutcher told The Black Wall Street Times. “We stand in solidarity with the Sanders family and Lawton community as we call for justice.”
While some may consider the charges to be sufficient, considering LPD officers are rarely charged for their brutality, the family of Quadry Sanders has made it clear that they won’t stop until the punishment fits the crime in the form of elevated murder charges.