By H. Nelson Goodson
October 12, 2014
Buckeye, Arizona - On Friday, an immigrant driver with a license was threaten to be killed or fatally shot, if he moved, an unidentified Buckeye police officer warned him during a routine traffic stop. The driver never provoked the officer to be warned of being killed or shot.
Erika Andiola Arreola says, the driver is married to her girlfriend and that she was disturbed to hear the officer threaten to kill him. Arreola posted on her Facebook account on Saturday, "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..." She uploaded the YouTube video on Friday that the immigrant driver recorded in Spanish during the traffic stop.
The police officer spoke Spanish to the Spanish speaking Arizona driver. The driver is in deportation proceedings, according to Arreola.
When contacted by Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA), on Monday Larry Hall, Buckeye Chief of Police responded by e-mail, "I was just made aware of this video and we are currently conducting an inquiry as to who was involved. At this time the BPD PIO Team is formulating a response to this incident."
Here's the English translation based on the video recording.
Officer: "Do you have a license?"
Driver: "Yes sir."
Officer: "Show me your license, if you move, I will kill you. Do you understand me?"
Driver: "Yes, I'm recording you."
Officer: "Don't move, put your hands up here. Do you have any weapons in the car? Are you sure? Is there one in the car?"
Driver: "No, if you want I can get down?"
Officer: "What do you have here?"
Driver: "I'm coming from work and those are my tools."
Officer: "Just tools, are you sure?"
Driver: "I'm sure."
Officer: "Ok, don't get down, stay there. If you move, I will shoot you. Do you understand?"
Video: Buckeye, AZ officer threatens to kill immigrant driver: http://youtu.be/6a2JI73gZ1o
Update: The Buckeye Police Department (BPD) released the following statement after HNNUSA contacted them on Sunday night. Here's their full statement.
"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," the BPD stated.
According to Sánchez, he is undocumented and has lived in the U.S. for 10 years and has two U.S. born children ages 5 and 10. Sánchez claims that the officer was aggressive and pointed a gun at him.