PHOENIX — Immigration activists are making serious accusations against an unnamed Buckeye police officer after a traffic stop involving an undocumented immigrant went wrong on Oct. 10, 2014.
Teodulo Sanchez said he was stopped by the officer, “for no clear reason.” He said he was immediately asked by the officer to turn off the car, and the police officer continued his commands with terrifying threats spoken in Spanish.
Sanchez told BuzzFeed News he decided to record a video of the encounter and told the police officer he was taping him. DREAMer and activist Erika Andiola obtained the video from Sanchez and released it on Youtube.
Toward the end of the video, it is evident the officer, who is of Hispanic descent, does not have full command of the Spanish language, while Sanchez is fluent in Spanish. Still, Sanchez said the threats were clear, in any language.
“Keep your hands where I can see them, don’t move. You hear me? You have a license? Show me your license now. If you do something, I’ll kill you here. You understand?” Teodulo Sanchez tells BuzzFeed News the officer put a gun in his face during the tense stop, which police dispute.
Police have denied Sanchez’s version of the events and said that Sanchez was moving his arms around, making furtive movements in the vehicle and not following directions. Buckeye police also explained in a press release that they did not agree with what the officer said but that he never pointed a gun at Sanchez.
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.
Police said undercover officers had been tipped off earlier in the day about a gold, four-door Honda vehicle possibly amount of illegal narcotics with a possible armed occupant transporting drugs traveling towards Buckeye on State Route 85. It was during the look out for the vehicle that police officers observed Sanchez commit two traffic violations. Department leaders said when the officer moved towards the car, he asked the driver to roll down the windows and allegedly began to behave in such a way that the officer was on high alert.
“There could have been a communication issue,” said Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall. “However, we want to maintain that trust with the public, we want to show transparency. We are going to do an investigation, we have nothing to hide, and if the officer did something wrong, we will hold him accountable.”
Sanchez is undocumented and has been living in the U.S. for years. His father is a U.S. citzen, and he has two young children that are also American citizens, says BuzzFeed. Sanchez has attempted to gain legal status, but his efforts failed. He is currently in deportation proceedings.
KTAR’s Sandra Haros contributed to this report.