The Norman Transcript

Local news

February 8, 2006

FBI probe sought in police shooting

Family files tort claim against city, officer

By Tom Blakey

Transcript Staff Writer

The Governor’s Advisory Council on Latin American and Hispanic Affairs has voted to ask for an FBI investigation into the Sept. 26 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Richard Lee Sanchez by a Norman police officer.

“The council’s recommendation was on the provision we had written permission from the family,” said Giovanni Perry, advisory council vice chair. “We’ve received that and will be sending a letter to the FBI along with a copy of the letter we sent to Police Chief Phil Cotten and his response to us.”

Perry was acting chair at the advisory council’s Jan. 30 meeting, when the board voted 8-1 to request an FBI investigation into the shooting. Council member Steven Valencia of Alva, attending his first meeting, cast the only dissenting vote.

“The dissenting vote belonged to a new member of the advisory council who said he thought we were going beyond the scope of our duty as an advisory council,” Perry said.

Norman Master Police Officer Chad Vincent shot Sanchez at the end of a police chase on I-35 near Southeast 89th Street in south Oklahoma City. A police summary released Oct. 17 revealed Vincent fired 15 shots, striking Sanchez 13 times. The shooting occurred after Sanchez escaped from the Alan J. Couch detention center with three other juveniles, allegedly committed a robbery, stole a vehicle and got into a car chase with police.

Cleveland County District Attorney Tim Kuykendall ruled that Vincent used justifiable force. Kuykendall’s ruling was criticized by several human rights organizations including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the League of United Latino American Citizens and the Hispanic Action Coalition.

In November, the governor’s advisory council sent a letter to Cotten, expressing “in the gravest of terms” its concerns over Vincent’s exoneration. The letter said the killing was “avoidable, unnecessary and unconscionable” and asked for a new investigation “by a disinterested third party.”

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