Topics: Neighbours yell 'he can't hear you' before Oklahoma City.

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But the two officers kept shouting commands. Sergeant Christopher Barnes and Lieutenant Matthew Lindsey ordered Magdiel Sanchez to drop a 60-centimetre long metal pipe. Instead, the 35-year-old stepped from the verandah of the single-story house in suburban Oklahoma City, in the southern US state of Oklahoma, apparently oblivious to the shouts.

With about five metres distance between them, both officers discharged their weapons - one a gun, the other a taser. Sanchez was pronounced dead at the scene on Tuesday night, local time.

The uniformed officers arrived at the address looking for the driver of a hit-and-run incident nearby. Sanchez was the son of the driver they were looking for. What they did not seem to know was that he was deaf.

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John Warcup Cornforth was born on September 7, 1917 in Sydney, the second of four children of John Cornforth, a Classics teacher from England, and his Australian wife, Hilda (nee Eipper), a nurse, and grew up in Sydney and Armidale. At 10 he started to go deaf from a condition called otosclerosis, where the bones in the middle ear become deformed and stop transmitting sound. By 20 he was completely deaf, except for the ringing in his ears of tinnitus, a common side effect of the disease.

Luckily, at Sydney Boys High, a young teacher, Leonard Basser, influenced Cornforth in the direction of chemistry, which seemed to the young student to offer a career where his deafness might not be a handicap. And so it proved, he was accepted to the University of Sydney at 16 and because he couldn't hear the lectures he started reading textbooks, which in those days were mostly in German, so he taught himself German as well. He graduated in 1937 with a bachelor of science, first class honours and University Medal.

After some post-graduate work in Australia, Cornforth was awarded one of two 1851 Exhibition scholarships in 1939 to study at Oxford. In those days there was no facility to do a PhD in chemistry in Australia.

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