LAWTON, Okla. (KFDX/KJTL) — On Friday, May 6, 2022, body cam footage from the December 2021 shooting death of Quadry Sanders was released by the Lawton Police Department.
The footage was made public as word from the Comanche County District Attorney’s office came that two former Lawton police officers would be charged with First Degree Manslaughter.
Now, Sanders’ family and a well-known civil rights attorney are putting pressure on the D.A.’s office, Comanche County, and the City of Lawton to take this case and these charges more seriously.
Sanders was fatally shot by former Lawton PD officers Robert Hinkle and Nathan Ronan in December 2021, but Merritt said there’s a reason the footage is only now being made public.
“The reason we see a gap between this incident which happened back in December, and this video being released, is because they wanted the investigation to move forward without public pressure,” Merritt said.
According to an investigation conducted by Comanche County District Attorney Kyle Cabelka and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, Sanders was shot 4 times with his hands up.
Then after Sander’s fell to the ground with his hands still up, he was shot 7 more times by Hinkle while simultaneously being shot an additional 4 times by Ronan.
Sanders’ mother, Mina Woods, and step-father Kenneth Woods, said Quadry was never even given a chance to comply with officer’s orders.
“No parent should be afraid for their child to even encounter the police,” Woods said. “If a police officer give you a command, you must allow them to comply, but it seems like this young man has a history of not allowing people to comply.”
The young man Woods refers to, Ronan, was also the subject of an investigation into the January 17, 2021 shooting death of Zonterious Johnson.
Ronan was later cleared of any wrongdoing following OSBI’s investigation.
“I remember my son calling me and he was very upset and he was telling me about one of his friends that got shot by the police,” Woods said. “Little did I know it as this exact same boy.”
Merritt, who has seen a vast number of similar cases, said Sanders’ family shouldn’t be in this position, and the city of Lawton has to take responsibility for its officers.
“Their failure to do that will cause us to rely on the attorney generals office to come in and review the case,” Merritt said. “And we’ll also be looking to the Department of Justice in doing a pattern review of Lawton in general.”
Woods and Merritt, who watched the video for the first time when it was released days ago, fell like manslaughter charges, with just a $25,000 bond, don’t fit the crime they committed.
“These officers got a bond that seriously, you can get a higher bond for stealing a pack of cigarettes,” Woods said.
Woods and Merritt are in agreement that the charges aren’t enough.
“The family and I have been struggling to see how what we saw in that video fits in a manslaughter context,” Merritt said. “There seems to be the malice and afterthought that justify murder charges for both men in this shooting.”
Merritt said he’s ready to take this case to whatever level it needs to be taken to, beginning with a pending federal civil rights suit through a Monell Claim.
“This is a place that has a disproportionate use of force particularly geared at black men that needs to be investigated long term,” Merritt said. “Now that this video is out and the family is pursing justice, its not just going to stop with justice in this case. We want a change in this region so this thing is not so typical.”
Now, the family of Sanders and the experienced attorney are teaming up in the quest for justice for a passionate musician and a loving son, who could always make his friends laugh, whose life was taken much too soon.
“When all this transpired… I knew, I knew that my son did everything he was told to do,” Woods said. “You know, the truth will prevail, justice has a weighted scale and often times its one sided and this just proves it more for me.”
Our newsroom reached out to Comanche County D.A. Cabelka for further comment, and were referred back to his statement until further notice.