Only Trust the Officers On Trial - City Attorney's Closing Arguments Victim Blames and Falls Flat
"There is no evidence that Anthony experienced any pain and suffering after he was shot."
This was the City Attorney's argument against Jury Instruction #24 regarding pain and suffering, all in defense of Officers Michael Santos and Anthony Vizzusi.
The City Attorney Ardell Johnson began his closing arguments stating that Officer Santos and Officer Vizzusi were "veteran police officers" tallying over 15 years and they were "doing their best for the citizens of San Jose." The City Attorney continued to emphasize how these police officers were "at work." At one point, he called the Jury "laymen" as he tried to articulate how no one understands the experience of being a police officer or the pressures or the hardships. When describing independent witness, Anthony's neighbor Charles Thomas, he pled with the jury to understand that Mr. Thomas was not at work and could not have been paying the type of attention to Anthony as these police officers. Mr. Thomas had testified during trial that he didn't even see Anthony with a gun when he walked out of the house and recalls Anthony's hands being at his side when he was shot by Officer Santos and Officer Vizzusi -- a directly conflicting statement to the testimonies of Santos and Vizzusi. The City Attorney said "Mr. Thomas was not at work" as if Mr. Thomas was incapable to have seen what he did. The City Attorney then argued that "the only witness the plaintiffs have to support their view is the testimony of Mr. Thomas" in an attempt to undermine all the other evidence that clearly supports the Nuñez family -- the coroner report, the CAD dispatch records, the experts, even contradicting officer statements.
The City Attorney's other central argument was that Anthony committed "suicide by cop". This attorney, paid by the City of San Jose, stood less than 10 feet away from Anthony's father Tony and his mom Sandy where he told the jury that Anthony wanted to kill himself because his father neglected him and how his family "left him". He prefaced it by saying, "The last thing I want to do is to diminish a parent's love for a child, but..." He then proceeds to do exactly that. Throughout this entire trial, they continued to victim blame and to blame Anthony's family for the police shooting him. They negate all of the evidence shown throughout trial of the meaningful relationships Anthony maintained with all of his family and friends, evident by the standing-room-only packed out court room filled with people who loved Anthony. The nails on chalkboard feeling in the court room left everyone in disbelief of the amount of disrespect the City of San Jose is showing Anthony's family in this moment. They have a choice in how they present this case and they chose to tell the jury that no one loved or cared for Anthony in front all of his family and friends. The attack on the family revealed the attorney had no actual argument, and was delivered with no emotion, or apparent interest. It was a flat, dry, disengaged closing that belied the fact this trial was about the tragic loss of life of an 18-year-old child.
He also said, "You've been emotionally bombarded with images that are hard to unsee." Some of those images were autopsy photos of Anthony bullet wounds to the front and back; the photo of him on his front porch, bloodied, already deceased and still handcuffed - his body among children's toys on the lawn where Sandy runs a daycare. Many of us shook our heads -- that's exactly what San Jose Police did, and what the City of San Jose is now trying to justify.
The City Attorney is left with the task of defending two police officers who shot Anthony, an 18 year old boy who was experiencing a mental health crisis and had shot himself in the head.
They chose to defend the police officers by blaming Anthony and his family.