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Sanders’ family attorney seeks to upgrade charges to murder

Published: May. 6, 2022 at 6:56 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - The two former Lawton Police Officers who killed Quadry Sanders back in December 2021 are facing first degree manslaughter charges, the Comanche County District Attorney said in a statement Friday.

Following the Lawton Police Department’s release of the body camera footage from that night, Sanders’ family attorney Lee Merritt said the video is shocking those who watch it.

Merritt said the punishment does not fit the crime for Nathan Ronan and Robert Hinkle.

His office will be pushing the prosecutor to upgrade the charges to murder and contacting the Attorney General and the Department of Justice.

On December 5, 2021 officers were called to a home on NW Lincoln Ave. in reference to Quadry Sanders violating a protective order, but that protective order had expired days before.

The woman who called 911 reported that Sanders was waving a gun inside the home.

We learned that no weapon was found on Sanders or in the area where he was shot.

Merritt said this video is up there with high profile cases we’ve seen in the last several years, like George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery.

“I put this video on that level,” Merritt said. “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.”

Also back in December, Comanche County District Attorney Kyle Cabelka said in a statement, that Sanders would not allow people inside the home to leave.

A perimeter was set up around the house and a Sergeant began giving orders to Sanders using a PA system.

That’s when he meets Ronan and Hinkle underneath the home’s carport.

Hinkle tells Sanders “hands, hands” and “down, down, down.”

In a frozen frame in the story above, the only item visible in Sanders’ hands is a ball cap.

Video also shows Sanders raising his hands in the air when Hinkle fires at him four times.

He falls to the ground and sits back up with his hands in the air, and Hinkle fires seven more shots at Sanders, while Ronan fires 4 shots simultaneously.

He had 12 gunshot wounds, according to the Medical Examiner’s report.

The DA has now determined the shooting was not justified, but said Hinkle and Ronan are “presumed innocent of the charges until proven guilty.”

“To cause Mr. Sanders death, it’s obvious that when his hands were up and he was fully surrendered and they made the decision to shoot him not once, but also when he was on the ground in the end, attempting to surrender, to open fire, that seems to justify a murder charge,” Merritt said.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation after the shooting.

Ronan and Hinkle were terminated back in January after LPD’s Internal Affairs division conducted an investigation and concluded that officers were “not in conformance with well-established training protocols, policies, practices, customs or procedures.”

OSBI and DA Kyle Cabelka didn’t respond for further comment. Chief James Smith declined to interview for this story.

The Lawton Police Department posted the body camera footage from the shooting to the City of Lawton’s YouTube page. You can watch it here. We do want to warn that this video is disturbing.

Here’s a link to statements from the Comanche County District Attorney, Lawton City Manager Michael Cleghorn and Mayor Stan Booker.

Nathan Ronan and Robert Hinkle were fired on January 7, a little over a month after the shooting, after the Lawton Police Department’s Internal Affairs division’s administrative investigation.

They had their first court appearance this morning, where the judge set their bonds at $25,000 a piece for the manslaughter charges.

They were both booked into Comanche County Detention Center and have since posted bail, but we wanted to get some background information on these two officers.

We’ve learned Ronan had been with the department since 2017.

We’ve requested all previous disciplinary actions taken against Ronan and found no prior reprimands.

In those documents, we also learned he did not turn on his body camera during Sanders’ shooting, violating an LPD policy, which contributed to his termination.

He was also involved in a separate officer-involved shooting in January 2021 in which Zonterious Johnson was killed.

In that shooting, Ronan was cleared of any wrongdoing, citing the use of deadly force was justified.

Robert Hinkle had been with the department since 2018.

We also requested any previous disciplinary actions taken against Hinkle.

Throughout his career with the department, he’s been suspended three times, all of which pertained to damaging a police unit.

Ronan and Hinkle are due back in court on August 1, 2022 for their preliminary hearing conferences, with Judge Emmit Tayloe assigned to the case.

Robert Hinkle was discharged from the Lawton Police Department for violating

  • LPD Policy and Procedures – Conduct and Behavior, Justification to Use Deadly Force, Deadly Force, Unsatisfactory Performance
  • LPD Rules and Regulations – Performance of Duty
  • City of Lawton Municipal Code – Violations of City Code

Nathan Ronan was discharged from the Lawton Police Department for violating

  • LPD Policy and Procedures – Duties and Responsibilities, Justification to Use Deadly Force, Deadly Force, Mobile and Body cam video/audio (not activating body cam footage)
  • LPD Rules and Regulations – Performance of Duty
  • City of Lawton Municipal Code – Violations of City Code

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