On October 12, LatinoRebels.com ran the story of Teodulo Sánchez and a video he recorded showing a Buckeye, Arizona police officer telling Sánchez that he would ” kill [him] right here” during a traffic stop.
On October 13, Buzzfeed ran a story about the video and spoke to Sánchez. That same day, our founder and publisher spoke with both the Buckeye Police and Sánchez’s wife, Diana Durán, who had shared a longer version of the video on YouTube. That video is no longer on her account. Latino Rebels produced a transcript of that video before the video was removed from YouTube.
The shorter video shared by immigrant rights activist Erika Andiola, which Latino Rebels shared on October 12, is still online.
There was talk of a pending administrative inquiry by the Buckeye Police Department (BPD) and promises by Larry Hall, Buckeye’s Police Chief, that the department would get to the bottom of this.
“They told us that they were very sorry about what happened. They promised to investigate into the matter,” Durán said to Latino Rebels on October 13. “Those types of officers shouldn’t be allowed to be on the job.”
So where is the case now?
Here is what we can report:
Last Thursday, Sánchez and his supporters demonstrated in front of the BPD “to call for the name of the officer to be released and for the immediate firing of the officer. They also called for criminal charges pressed against the officer and an investigation into the incident,” according to VOXXI.
That article quoted Andiola as well:
“It is unacceptable that our community has to put up with such violent behavior from our own law enforcement, those who are supposed to ‘serve and protect’ the entire community,” Andiola said, adding that the Buckeye Police Department “needs to be accountable and ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Local news also reported that the group that accompanied Sánchez to BPD were asking that the officer be fired from the force:
On Friday, Latino Rebels officially requested for a copy of the actual police report, the same one cited in the local FOX report. This morning, we received a redacted report, showing the initial version filed by the unnamed officer (his name was crossed out) and other versions from other officers that corroborate the first officer’s report. You can (and should) read the full report here.
Little, if anything, is mentioned of the recording Sánchez made, but the first officer’s report did include this:
BOTH OF HIS SHOULDERS SEVERAL TIMES. THERE WAS A BLACK SUITCASE IN THE BACKSEAT. TEODULO MADE EYE CONTACT WITH THE SUITCASE AT LEAST ONE TIME. AT THIS TIME, I BELIEVED CONTRABAND WAS POSSIBLY INSIDE THE SUITCASE. I CONTINUED GIVING TEODULO VERBAL COMMANDS IN AN ATTEMPT TO SEE HIS HANDS.
TEODULO’S MOVEMENTS INSIDE THE VEHICLE WERE NOT NORMAL TO ME. DUE TO ALL THE AFOREMENTIONED BEHAVIORS, THIS APPEARED ABNORMAL TO ME.
I TOOK MY DEPARTMENT ISSUED SERVICE WEAPON OUT OF MY HOLSTER AND KEPT IT AT ALOW-READY. I NEVER POINTED THE WEAPON AT THE DRIVER, BUT I WAS ATTENTIVE TO HIS ACTIONS AND PREPARED TO TAKE ACTION IF NEEDED.
IT SHOULD BE NOTED I WAS ON HIGH ALERT DUE TO THE NATURE OF THE TRAFFIC STOP BEING DRUG SMUGGLING RELATED. IT IS MY TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE THAT SUBJECTS TRANSPORTING DRUGS FROM MEXICO OFTEN ARE ARMED WITH FIREARMS WHICH ARE USED TOP ROTECT THEIR LOAD. I HAVE RESPONDED TO ASSIST OTHER AGENCIES IN THE SAME ARE AWITH DRUG RELATED INCIDENTS. IN THOSE CASES DRUG SMUGGLERS HAVE FLED ON FOOT LEAVING THEIR LOADS INSIDE THE VEHICLE. ADDITIONALLY, I WAS AWARE THAT A DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY (DPS) OFFICER WAS SHOT IN THE FACE THE PREVIOUS DAY DURING A TRAFFIC STOP.
DUE TO ALL THE AFOREMENTIONED INFORMATION, I TOLD THE TEODULO, IF HE MOVED I WOULD KILL HIM. I TOLD TEODULO THIS STATEMENT IN AN EFFORT TO STOP ANY POTENTIAL VIOLENT ALTERCATION. AT THIS POINT, TEODULO COMPLIED WITH ALL OF MY VERBAL COMMANDS.
When the backup officers showed up, Sánchez’s car was searched, after Sánchez gave the officers permission. Nothing was found.
Everything that Sánchez told the officers on the tape (that he worked at the local military base as a plumber), was confirmed in the report. Sánchez was not charged with anything and was given a verbal warning.
In addition, as a result of our direct communication with the Buckeye Police, the name of the officer will not be released since, according to BPD, Arizona law prohibits the department from doing so during the course of an active investigation:
L. An employer shall not include in that portion of the personnel file of a law enforcement officer or probation officer that is available for public inspection and copying any information about an investigation until the investigation is complete or the employer has discontinued the investigation. If the law enforcement officer or probation officer has timely appealed a disciplinary action, the investigation is not complete until the conclusion of the appeal process.
In an October 24 email to @julito77 (the day after Sánchez and his supporters spoke out in front of BPD) Sgt. Jason Weeks, one of the BPD’s Public Information Officers, shared more information:
As of right now we are at a standstill. As you recall, Mr. Sanchez and family met with Chief of Police Larry Hall on Monday October 13, 2014. During this meeting, Chief Hall expressed his concerns and advised Mr. Sanchez we would conduct an administrative review of the incident and Mr. Sanchez asked to file a formal complaint. They were explained the process and Mr. Sanchez was also told one of our Spanish speaking officers would contact him in reference to an interview. Mr. Sanchez and his representatives have been contacted via phone messages and email with no reply from Mr. Sanchez.
Mr. Sanchez did come out to the Buckeye Police Department yesterday to file another complaint. He was provided with the Citizen Complaint Form (in accordance with our polices) and a copy of the incident report. (This was done by our front desk clerks prior to my arrival at the PD) Mr. Sanchez was advised he needed to reply to the request for his interview. One of his representatives asked for the officer’s name, which we cannot release. The group was informed of the state law, barring us from releasing the officer’s name. (ARS 38-1101-L)
We need to get Mr. Sanchez’s side of the story for this complaint to go forward.
Sgt. Weeks also provided October 14 and 21 copies of email correspondence between Hall and individuals (including Andiola) who were assisting Sánchez and Durán. Those emails show that communication is occurring between both parties.