Newspaper editor escorted from police station

Thursday, October 20th 2005, 10:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ An interview between the city's police chief and the editor of an Oklahoma City Spanish-language newspaper over a recent police shooting turned confrontational, prompting police to escort the man from the police department.

Franco Cevallos, editor of Nuestra Communidad, met with Norman Police Chief Phil Cotten on Wednesday to discuss the Sept. 26 shooting death of 17-year-old Richard Sanchez.

District Attorney Tim Kuykendall ruled Monday that officer Chad Vincent was justified in using deadly force against Sanchez, an escapee from a juvenile detention center who robbed a gas station at knifepoint and led police on a high-speed chase.

``I came here for some answers, and look what happened,'' an angry Cevallos said in the parking lot of the police station after the incident.

``It showed a total lack of respect. There will be repercussions (in the Hispanic community),'' said Cevallos, who is president of the Hispanic Action Coalition in Oklahoma City.

Assistant City Attorney Susan Rogers said she called a halt to the interview when Cevallos began making accusations against Vincent.

Cotten said Cevallos asked to meet with him ``to have a dialogue'' about the events that led to Sanchez's death.

The chief said he was surprised when Cevallos arrived with Hispanic-television reporters, wanted to film the interview and began reading a prepared statement.

``This is not a dialogue. This is over,'' Cotten said, standing up and removing a microphone clipped to his shirt.

Rogers told Cevallos his conduct ``is inappropriate. Sir, you are not acting with respect. If you want to conduct a legitimate interview and talk about both sides of an issue then you are welcome to continue, but I won't allow accusations.''

Cevallos began the interview with Cotten by telling him the shooting was ``a slap against the Hispanic community.''

``We consider this a crime on the part of the officer. We came here to demand he be fired,'' Cevallos said.

After Cevallos was escorted outside, two reporters from Hispanic station KUOK-TV were allowed to interview police spokesman Lt. J. D. Younger.

``The action taken by our officer was in response to Mr. Sanchez's behavior that night. It was not because he was Hispanic,'' Younger said.

When questioned about the 13 times Sanchez was shot, Younger said, ``We address the question, 'was deadly force justified?' We don't address the number of times the force was used.''

Cevallos said he plans to complain to the U.S. Justice Department and human rights organizations about the shooting and the incident in Cotten's office.