Qadry Sanders

Two former police officers in Lawton, Okla. have been charged with first-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of a Black man in December while responding to a 911 call of an alleged protective order violation.

Robert Hinkle, 30, and Nathan Ronan, 29, were charged with the death of Quadry Sanders, 29. The charges follow a months-long probe by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), which included a graphic video of the deadly incident.

Hinkle and Ronan were fired from the Lawton police department in January. 

“The Comanche County District Attorney’s Office has made the determination that the shooting of Quadry Sanders was not justified,” D.A. Kyle Cabelka said in a statement.

Ronan and Hinkle were released on a $25,000 bond. They face a minimum of four years in state prison. A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 1.

Deadly call

On Dec. 5, 2021, the officers responded to a 911 call on an alleged protective order violation, where the caller reported Sanders was waving a gun in the house and wouldn’t let a resident leave, according to authorities.  

During what authorities called a “confrontation” in front of the home, police fatally shot Sanders. The officers were fired after the OSBI determined they were “not in conformance with the Lawton Police Department’s well-established training protocols, policies, practices, customs or procedures,” Lawton City Manager Michael Cleghorn wrote in a statement.

Civil rights attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represented the family of George Floyd and is the lead lawyer for Ahmaud Arbery’s estate, is also representing Sanders’ family. Merritt wants the charges upgraded to murder. He told local reporters the video of Sanders’ fatal shooting is on par with footage of Floyd’s and Arbery’s deaths. 

“It really shocks the conscience when you have a chance to see Mr. Sanders literally doing whatever he could to try to save his own life, and these officers are operating with such callousness,” Merritt said.

Gary James, an Oklahoma City-based attorney representing Hinkle and Ronan, said officers had repeatedly been called to the house because of Sanders, and evidence will show on the night of the fatal shooting they believed he was reaching for a weapon in his pants. 

“Nobody is looking into the facts of this case,” James said. “These are good police officers.”

Video footage released by the city

The city of Lawton has released more than 23 minutes of the police body camera footage, which shows officers setting up a perimeter around the house and a sergeant giving Sanders orders through a loudspeaker in a patrol vehicle.

Sanders walked out of the front door of the home and was confronted underneath a carport by Hinkle and Ronan. According to footage from his body camera, Hinkle yelled “hands, hands” and “down, down, down, down.” 

Sanders appeared from around a refrigerator, his hands were visible and he appeared to be holding a ball cap, which he moved from his right hand to his left. Sanders then moved partially behind the refrigerator.

Hinkle shot four times at Sanders, who appeared to have his right hand raised above his head before falling to the ground. Hinkle then yelled “down, down” and “hands, hands, hands,” and “quit reaching.” 

Sanders sat up with his hands above his head. Hinkle then fired seven more times. Ronan also fired four times at Sanders, bringing the total of shots fired at Sanders to 15.

As the officers ordered Sanders to roll over on his stomach, he flailed, moaned, and said: “I’m down. I’m shot. I can’t breathe.”

Sanders died in an ambulance while being taken to the hospital.

Cabelka said no weapon was found on Sanders nor in the area where he was shot, though one was later found in the house.