UPDATE: Disturbing Video of Arizona Police Officer Threatening to Kill Immigrant

Oct 12, 2014
8:37 PM

UPDATE: The full 12-minute video has been uploaded to YouTube, but then it was taken down.

UPDATE: Our publisher reported that Sánchez and his family met with Buckeye’s Police Chief on the afternoon of October 13.

UPDATE: The Buckeye Police Department released the following statement on its Facebook page this afternoon, Monday October 13, 2014:

The Buckeye Police Department has issued the following Press Release:

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.

Buzzfeed also reached out to Sánchez this afternoon. This is what he told Buzzfeed about why he 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.” Read the whole story here.


Last night immigrant rights activist Erika Andiola posted a Facebook update along with a link to a YouTube video showing what appears to be a police officer speaking in Spanish and threatening to kill a driver the officer pulled over. Here is what Andiola wrote, “I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS! My friend’s husband, who by the way is in deportation proceedings, was just told by a Buckeye, Arizona cop that he was going to ‘kill’ him at a traffic stop for NO REASON. Video below…”

The voices begin about nine seconds in. Here is a rough transcript of the video, including our translation of the portions in Spanish:

OFFICER: Put your hands where I can see them. Hands up, right here. Turn the car off. What’s your name?
MAN: [Inaubible].. Sánchez
MAN: [Inaubible].. Sánchez
OFFICER: Let me see the keys. Weapons? You have weapons?
MAN: No.
OFFICER: No weapons in the car? Keep your hands where I can see them. Don’t move.
MAN: What happened?
OFFICER: Do you have a license?
MAN: Yes, sir.
OFFICER: Show me the license right now. If you do something, I will kill you right here. Do you understand me?
MAN: [Spanish here is a bit inaudible] Yes, I am recording you too.
OFFICER: Put your hands up here. You don’t have weapons in the car? Are you sure? Are there any in the car?
MAN: No, if you like, I can get out of the car.
OFFICER: What’s here then?
MAN: I come to work. These are my tools.
OFFICER: Just tools? Are you sure?
MAN: Am sure.
OFFICER: Ok. Don’t get out of the car. Stay there. If you move, I will shoot you right here. Do you understand me?
MAN: Yes. Do you want to check my ID (inaudible)?
OFFICER: Where are you coming from?

Andiola’s post did not share any additional details, but it does raise serious questions the officer’s behavior, especially after key points of the state’s controversial SB1070 law were struck down by the Supreme Court in 2012. This past July, the ACLU filed its second legal claim against the Tucson Police Department.

Buckeye, Arizona, is a western suburb of Phoenix with a total population of about 55,000 people, of which 49% are white and 39% are Latino.

Emails, tweets and Facebook posts to the Buckeye Police Department have not been answered as of this posting. Lobby hours to call or visit the department for non-emergency purposes are Monday–Thursday from 7:30am-5:30pm local Arizona time.