Immigrant Man Threatened by Arizona Officer in Viral Video Meets with Police Chief

UPDATE, October 14, 2014: Diana Durán has uploaded the entire 12-minute video to YouTube. She also said via telephone today that her husband is now having problems at work because initial media report incorrectly stated that her husband was undocumented. She insists that he is not and that he has legal status in this country. Sgt. Weeks was also contacted today and said that Buckeye Police has not received a copy of the video yet. (NOTE: the video has been removed.)

Around 9 minutes in (right after the initial clip posted by Erika Andiola on Saturday night), Sánchez tells the officer that he is coming from work at the military base in Yuma. Sánchez tells the officer that he works there and when the officer asks him what he does there, Sánchez says he is a plumber there.

Sánchez: Do you want to see my id?
Officer: No. Do you have insurance for the car?
Sánchez: Yes.
Officer: Where is it?
Sánchez: Right here.
Officer: Are there weapons in this car?
Sánchez: No!
Officer: I don’t like it when you don’t lower windows, you become suspicious to me. People who get stopped by police usually lower all their windows. You didn’t lower any window.
Sánchez: Because I have no problem.
Officer: Ok. Lower here. Lower.
Sánchez: The insurance.
Officer: No, you give me the insurance. Am not going to get it.
Sánchez: Ok. I don’t know. Ok.
Officer: Put your hands here. Don’t move.
Sánchez: Why are you treating me like a criminal?
Officer: Because you keep trying to put your hands here.
Sánchez: What do you mean?
Officer: Put your hands the there.
Sánchez: Well, check. I come from the military base.
Officer: Ok. Can I check?
Sánchez: Check.
Officer: Ok. I get suspicious when you don’t lower the windows.
Sánchez: I don’t have any problem.
Officer: If there’s no problem, then there’s no problem. Ok.
Sánchez: Yes.
Officer: Put your hands there. Don’t move.
Sánchez: I am not moving them.
Officer: I need the assurances that you don’t move them. Ok.
(Officer starts talking to someone else in English saying that Sánchez kept looking over his shoulder. The conversation goes to English and Sánchez says that officer had a gun but officers said it was because he couldn’t see Sánchez’s arm, then the conversation switches back to Spanish.)
New Officer: What is happening?
Sánchez: I work at the base, then a pickup truck come that looked like a police car and it was right there waiting and then I started recording because it was like 20 minutes that the other car was following me. And then he came with a gun saying that I shouldn’t move, that I was a criminal, but I work right here at the base. I don’t know why you treated me like that. And I am recording all this too.
(Officer then speaks in English again. Sánchez responds in English.)

This is the original story published on October 13.

Less than 48 hours after a 74-second video was posted of Teodulo Sánchez being threatened by a Buckeye, Arizona police officer, Sánchez and his family met earlier this afternoon with Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall to discuss the incident and to also agree that the longer version of the video (about 12 minutes of footage) would be turned over to the Buckeye police to aid in the department’s administrative inquiry surrounding the case.

“The police want to see exactly what happened,” Sánchez’s wife Diana Durán said in Spanish tonight via telephone. “The video begins much earlier than [the You Tube video], and it’s about 12 minutes long.”

The following YouTube video was uploaded Saturday night by immigrant rights activist Erika Andiola. A transcript of the conversation between Sánchez and the officer can be found here.

Durán said that her husband decided to start recording video after he called her to say that a suspicious car was following him on October 10. It was not clear why the car was following Sánchez, but Durán did say that her husband feared for his life. Eventually, Durán said, a patrol car that was not the car following Sánchez turned on its lights near Sánchez’s car and according to Durán, the officer in that patrol car came out with his gun drawn.

“The officer was acting very aggressively and he never behaved well,” Durán said. “He had his gun out at all times and my husband was scared that the officer was going to shoot him.”

Sergeant Jason Weeks, a Public Information Officer for the Buckeye Police Department, confirmed that Sánchez, his wife and their son met with Chief Hall today around 12:30 local time to discuss the video, in which an unidentified officer tells Sánchez in Spanish, “If you do something, I will kill you right here,” and “If you move, I will shoot you right here.” According to Weeks, an interpreter was present at the meeting, and Sánchez had agreed to turn over the video to Hall to assist the Buckeye Police Department’s investigation.

Teodulo Sánchez (AzCentral Screen Grab)

Teodulo Sánchez (AzCentral Screen Grab)

“Chief Hall wants to look into the matter,” Weeks said via telephone. He agreed to release to the media a full report of the department’s findings once it is completed. No timetable was mentioned.

Weeks also added that the full video has yet to be turned over to Buckeye police as of tonight. Durán said that her family had just gotten home when reached on the telephone, and that since it is a 12-minute video, she would need to copy a rather large file from her family computer. She said that the video would be handed over to Chief Hall, although she didn’t indicate specifically when.

An official police press release issued around noon local time today stated that “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.”

Sánchez, according to the release, was the driver of the gold Honda. The release said that Sánchez “did not comply with the officer’s requests,” but police did not charge Sánchez with a crime. In addition, the release stated: “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.”

Durán insisted that the officer in question had his gun drawn at all times according to what her husband told her, but that the 12-minute video does not contain footage of the officer holding his gun because Sánchez had placed his recording device on the seat of his car. She also said that Sánchez told her that he did not commit a traffic violation. Instead, Durán said, her husband felt his life was in danger—from either the suspicious car following him or from the police officer who he said had his gun drawn.

When asked about today’s press release and the meeting with Chief Weeks, Durán said that the two stories do not match. During the meeting with Chief Weeks, according to Durán, the police were apologetic about the incident and promised to resolve the issue.

“They told us that they were very sorry about what happened. They promised to investigate into the matter,” Durán said. “Those types of officers shouldn’t be allowed to be on the job.”

Contacted by Buzzfeed earlier today, Sánchez shared his thoughts as to why recorded the officer: “I did it so people could see what happens, they’re killing too many people in America for nothing these days. If you look Mexican, they’ll stop you.”

The end of the release mentioned Sánchéz’s immigration status, saying that he is “currently out on bond pending an immigration status hearing, and does have a criminal history.” Durán emphasized that there is nothing suspicious at all about her husband’s immigration case and that he has fulfilled every requirement so far about his case. He also has legal status, according to his wife.

Local Arizona press covered the story tonight and Sánchez appeared on local TV. Chief Hall was interviewed as well, basically sharing the talking points from the press release.

***

EDITOR’S NOTE: Julio (Julito) Ricardo Varela (@julito77) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. A 1990 Harvard graduate in the History and Literature of Latin America, his personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond. He pens columns on LR regularly. In the last two years, Julito represented the Rebeldes on CBS’ Face the NationNPR,  Univisionand The New York Times. Recently, he was a digital producer for Al Jazeera America’s The Stream.

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