A family in southwest Oklahoma family is breathing a collective sigh of relief since the officers who killed their son were charged with manslaughter this month. The Dec. 5, 2021, shooting cost the officers involved their jobs, and now the victim’s family waits on pins and needles as the looming trial will determine if the officers will serve time in prison.
Reginald Sanders, 51, is the father of 29-year-old Quadry Sanders, and even though it has been six months since his son was killed by Lawton Police officers in Lawton, Oklahoma, it is still tough to see bodycam video of his son being shot 15 times.
“Watching my son on that ground, for a while, it seemed like forever, maybe 15 to 20 minutes of suffering, I wish he hadn’t suffered that much as a father,” Reginald Sanders said.
Lawton, Oklahoma, is about 86 miles south of Oklahoma City. The city has a population of around 90,000, 19 percent of it Black.
According to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, around 8:30 the night of the shooting, a 911 call reported Quadry Sanders inside a home in violation of a protective order banning him from that residence. The caller claimed Sanders was waving a gun inside the house.
When Lawton police arrived, a confrontation ensued between Sanders and officers Nathan Ronan and Robert Hinkle. Comanche County District Attorney Kyle Cabelka issued a statement describing the encounter in detail when the indictments were announced on May 6. It reads in part:
Officers learned that Mr. Sanders was inside the home located at 1806 NW Lincoln Avenue and was refusing to let one of the residents leave. Officers set up a perimeter around the house. A sergeant with the Lawton Police Department (LPD) then began giving Mr. Sanders orders using a PA system in a patrol vehicle. Shortly after commands were given, a female resident of the home exited.
Minutes later, Mr. Sanders was seen going out the back door of the home. An officer gave Mr. Sanders commands to show his hands, which he immediately complied with, but then Mr. Sanders ran back into the home. Seconds later, Quadry Sanders walked out of the front door of the home. Mr. Sanders was met underneath a carport by Officers Robert Hinkle and Nathan Ronan. Both Officers Hinkle and Ronan were wearing body cameras which captured the following events:
Officer Hinkle begins telling Mr. Sanders “hands, hands” as well as “down, down, down, down.” Mr. Sanders hands are clearly seen and the only item visible in his hands is a ball cap, which he transfers from his right hand to his left hand. As he is receiving these orders, Mr. Sanders quickly turns back towards the front door of the home.
Officers Hinkle and Ronan then walk closer to Mr. Sanders. As Hinkle approaches, Mr. Sanders can be seen raising both of his hands in the air, above his head. At that time, Officer Hinkle shoots his firearm four times at Mr. Sanders. Mr. Sanders falls to the ground and appears to have been shot, at which time Officer Hinkle once again orders “hands, hands, hands,” and to “quit reaching.” Mr. Sanders sits up from his back with his hands above his head at which time Officer Hinkle fires his firearm seven additional times. Simultaneously with these shots, Officer Ronan also fires his weapon at Mr. Sanders four times.
“My son had done the right thing and complied,” Reginald Sanders said of his son’s actions during the encounter. “I understand police have to make judgement calls all the time, but I really believe that was the wrong one, I believe it was kind of reckless,” Reginald Sanders went on to say of the officer’s actions.
On January 7, Lawton police completed its internal investigation into the shooting, and soon afterward Lawton City Manager Michael Cleghorn fired officers Ronan and Hinkle for their conduct during the shooting.
“As far back in January, when the City Manager fired the two policemen, that was a really good indicator that they had mess up,” Reginald Sanders said.
On May 6, the Comanche County District Attorney wrapped up his investigation and charged Officers Ronan and Hinkle with first degree manslaughter for killing Sanders. Reginald Sanders says he would have liked to see a stronger charger like murder, but is satisfied with a criminal charge no less.
“It was tough, don’t get me wrong, me and my family did a lot of questioning, but we just kept it to ourselves and waited for the process to play out,” Reginald Sanders said.
“I hate that Quadry Sanders had to get killed, in order for Zonterious to being life to his situation, Quadry Sanders had to lose his life for them to see they are the trigger-happy cops,” said Meyoshia Gray, mother of Zonterious Johnon, 24, who was also killed by Officer Ronan in January 2021.
“My son was putting his cake in the car, and someone started shooting in my son’s direction and my baby took off running,” Gray said.
In Johnson’s case, police say gunshots rung out at a late-night lounge and as officers rand towards the gunshots, they say Johnson was running away. Once Officer Ronan caught up to Johnson, he had a gun and aimed it at Ronan, causing the officer to shoot Johnson twice in the chest and foot.
Gray denies the police account of what happened the night her son was killed, and she also disputes the claim her son had a gun. In the end, Ronan was cleared of wrongdoing by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation in Johnson’s case.
“When I see Quadry Sanders get gunned down like that when they released that bodycam, it broke my heart because I see my baby. To me to see Quadry Sanders get justice, I would see my son get justice,” Gray said.
Reginald Sanders says his son will be most remembered for his tough gun image, his love of making people laugh and his music which he performed under the stage name, “Mercoe.”
“I always saw him as a prophet, when he was on stage his voice would carry, he really boomed, sometimes he didn’t really need a microphone,” Reginald Sanders said of his son’s music talents.
Reginald Sanders says the family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit to get more accountability for his son’s death. Quadry Sanders leaves behind seven children ranging in age from 2 to 11.
The officers’ scheduled court appearance is Aug. 1.