Video: Buckeye Police Officer Threatens to Shoot, Kill Immigrant
A Buckeye police officer threatened to shoot and kill a man during a traffic stop that was captured on video.
The officer, who wasn't identified by police, said during the stop that he'd shoot the driver, Teodulo Sanchez, if he did something, and later said he'd kill him if he moved out of the car.
The video was posted on Facebook over the weekend by notable immigration activist Erika Andiola, who's the government relations director for the Dream Action Coalition.
In response to New Times' questions, Buckeye police offered a department statement.
The statement describes how police were looking for a similar vehicle to the one Sanchez was driving, which was thought to contain a load of drugs and an armed occupant.
See the video below. (Note: The threats are made in Spanish.)
Sanchez wasn't the guy they were looking for, and was let go without a citation, although the statement -- which you can read in full below -- says Sanchez wasn't obeying the officer's demands.
"The Buckeye Police Department acknowledges the officer used a poor choice of words, and does not condone the statement made during the stop," the department's statement says. "At this time Mr. Sanchez has not reached out to the Buckeye Police Department concerning this traffic stop, and has not filed a complaint against our officer."
The Buckeye PD statement also says that the department is implementing a body-camera program for its officers, but this officer wasn't wearing one. Police say the YouTube video includes just a little more than a minute of a 20-minute stop.
Read the full statement from Buckeye PD below:
Late Sunday evening, October 12, 2014, the Buckeye Police Department learned through social media about a video released by an activist group that shows 1:14 of an approximate 20 minute stop. From this video, the Buckeye Police Department took it upon their own recognizance to initiate an administrative inquiry. The known facts at this time are that on October 10, 2014, the Buckeye Police received reliable information from another law enforcement agency in reference to gold, Honda 4-door vehicle allegedly carrying a large amount of illegal narcotics with a possible armed occupant. The vehicle was observed to have committed a traffic violation and the officer stopped the vehicle on State Route 85. The gold vehicle was being closely followed by a pickup truck that was also believed to be involved in illegal activity. Additional Officers located the truck and conducted a traffic stop. During this contact the driver of the truck was found to be armed with a weapon.
As the officer approached the gold Honda, he repeatedly asked the driver to lower the car windows and turn off the ignition. The driver, later identified as Teodulo Sanchez, did not comply with the officer's requests. The officer, who is bi-lingual gave commands in Spanish and English as the driver was not complying. Mr. Sanchez continued making furtive movements in the vehicle before the officer approached the passenger side window. With the information that the driver may be armed, and the fact that he was not obeying the officer's commands, this heightened the officer's concern for safety.
Mr. Sanchez eventually rolled down the passenger door window. As the officer approached, he asked Mr. Sanchez to shut off the vehicle and place his hands on the steering wheel. While the officer was speaking with Mr. Sanchez, he continued to move his hands about and at one point, put his left hand out of the officer's view. He then moved to the center console which prompted a warning from the officer. The officer never pointed his weapon at the driver.
After the backup officers arrived, Mr. Sanchez was asked to exit the vehicle and complied. He was seated on the curb beside the vehicle and asked the officer for an explanation, the officer explained to Mr. Sanchez the reasons for his actions to which Mr. Sanchez advised he understood. Officers asked Mr. Sanchez if they could search his vehicle and he advised they could, with no illegal narcotics or weapons were located. Mr. Sanchez was then released from the stop.
The Buckeye Police Department acknowledges the officer used a poor choice of words, and does not condone the statement made during the stop. At this time Mr. Sanchez has not reached out to the Buckeye Police Department concerning this traffic stop, and has not filed a complaint against our officer.
At this time and the police department has not received or reviewed the remainder of recording. The incident was not recorded by the officer through a digital recorder or body camera. In the interest of transparency and public trust, the Buckeye Police Department is in the process of implementing a body camera program so that a full depiction of events like this will be available for review.
Mr. Sanchez is currently out on bond pending an immigration status hearing, and does have a criminal history. The Buckeye Police Department did not take any further law enforcement action once Mr. Sanchez was determined not to be involved in any criminal activity at that time.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.