After meeting in executive session for just under an hour-and-a-half Thursday afternoon, the Lawton City Council voted to appeal of an arbitration ruling to reinstate to former Lawton police officers involved in a fatal December 2021 shooting.
By a vote of 5-0 in both cases, the city council authorized the appeal of the arbitration decision ordering the reinstatement of Nathan Michael Ronan, 30, and Robert Leslie Hinkle, 30,to their positions as police officers, along with back pay.
Ronan and Hinkle were terminated by the City of Lawton on Jan. 7, 2022, for their roles in the Dec. 5, 2021, shooting death of Quadry Malik Sanders, 29.
On June 9, arbitrators for the International Union of Police Association found the City of Lawton had not established that the two officers used excessive or unreasonable force.
Acting City Manager John Ratliff said the appeal will be made in the civil division of the Comanche County District Court but it’s expected the issue will ultimately be determined at the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.
The two responded to a call of an armed hostage situation and protective order violation against Quadry Malik Sanders at 1806 NW Lincoln. The police incident database showed Sanders had a history of resisting officers.
Body camera video shows Sanders step back behind a refrigerator outside the home while being ordered to continue coming forward with his hands raised. He was still considered armed at that time, arbitrators determined. After stepping behind the refrigerator, Sanders lowered his hands and was told again to show them. With a ball cap in his right hand, Sanders was seen shifting it to his left hand.
Sanders was then seen moving his hands toward his pants pocket. Arbitrators determined Hinkle thought the hand movements were aggressive. Hinkle fired multiple rounds as Sanders began to raise his right hand. Sanders fell backward to the ground and his hands appeared to the officers to be behind his back. He continued moving his hands as if reaching for something, and was still considered armed even after being struck by the first volley of bullets. The officers yelled for him to “quit reaching.”
Hinkle and Ronan simultaneously opened fire, again striking Sanders, after he failed to comply. According to the State Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, 12 bullet wounds to the upper and lower body killed Sanders. Ballistics testing showed that 11 wounds came from Hinkle’s gun and one from Ronan’s.
Hinkle then dragged Sanders from where he was as officers went inside to clear the home.
Ronan and Hinkle were criminally charged in Comanche County District Court with first-degree manslaughter in May 2022. Court records indicate their preliminary hearing for the charge has yet to be rescheduled following a recusal hearing for the judge originally slated to oversee it.
The city council took no action regarding a pending civil suit filed in the United States District Court by Sanders’ mother, Mina Woods, as administrator of her son’s estate.