Reinstatement ordered for Oklahoma officers who fatally shot unarmed Black man
LAWTON, Okla. (AP) — Two southwest Oklahoma police officers who fatally shot an unarmed Black man have been ordered by an arbitrator to be reinstated, according to an attorney for the two officers.
Ex-Lawton Officers Robert Hinkle and Nathan Ronan were fired following the December 2021 shooting death of 29-year-old Quadry Sanders while investigating reports of a man waving a gun inside a home.
Both officers have been charged with manslaughter by prosecutors, who said Sanders was unarmed.
Body camera footage released by the Lawton Police Department shows Sanders appeared from around a refrigerator, his hands visible and appearing to holding a ball cap.
Sanders then moved partially behind the refrigerator and Hinkle fired four times as Sanders appeared to have his right hand raised above his head before falling to the ground. Sanders sat up with his hands above his head and Hinkle, who is Black, fired seven more times.
Ronan, who is white, also fired four times at Sanders, according to prosecutors.
An autopsy revealed Sanders was struck 12 times in various parts of his body.
The two officers saw Sanders reach into his pocket as he first stepped behind the refrigerator after exiting the house and thought he was reaching for a gun, defense attorney Gary James said.
"You have to go back and see what was going on when the decision is made" to use deadly force, James said. "Mr. Sanders made movements that prompted the officers to fire."
James said the Hinkle and Ronan have not yet been reinstated as a result of the May 30 order and he does not know when that will occur. He said they will receive back pay.
City officials did not immediately return phone calls for comment Wednesday.
In a statement to KSWO-TV, the city said that is disappointed with the ruling, and is reviewing its legal options.
"Under existing Oklahoma law, arbitration awards are legally binding and therefore require the City's compliance unless successfully appealed," according to the statement. "City officials are reviewing all options to determine whether to appeal."
Sanders mother, Mina Woods, has filed a federal wrongful death lawsuit against Hinkle, Ronan and the city.
The officers and the city filed a response to the lawsuit, which is pending, denying wrongdoing.