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To a Hammer, Everything is a Nail - The Testimony of M. Santos, One of the Officers Who Shot Anthony



There is a saying, “To a man with a hammer, everything is a nail.” And to a heavily armed officer with a long gun rifle — even a child needing help is a target. Officer Michael Santos’s testimony recalling the moments in which he shot Anthony Nuñez describes this fatal dynamic. Santos was in full combat gear the day he responded to a welfare check for Anthony Nuñez. On the stand, while viewing a photo of what he was equipped with the day of the shooting, he described his semi-automatic AR-15, the layers of body armor, the magnifying scope on his weapon. It was through that lens that he says he claims he saw a “blank look” on Anthony’s face when he came outside of his house. Yet, officer Santos did not acknowledge that the face was of a that of a child. The day of the shooting, officer Santos stationed himself and his long gun across the street. He testified that at no time until the moment he shot him, did he see Anthony point the gun at any officers. He says that he saw Anthony staggering around, which is consistent with what would happen with a person who had a severe head wound. He claims though that despite moving in a sluggish, “zombie-like” state, Anthony went back into the home, and came out less then a minute later, and presented himself completely differently. Despite the accounts of the head trauma, the blood already having poured out of his head, officer Santos claims that he somehow came back out of the home with a new energy in under a minute. He claims Anthony came out with his chest out, making crisp movements. Santos says regardless of the medically debilitated condition Anthony was originally in, he now was twirling the gun like a cowboy, then firmly pointed the gun at other officers. That is when officer Santos shot and killed Anthony Nuñez, with bullet trajectory confirming he shot Anthony through the back. Santos claims he didn’t know he shot Anthony in the back, despite the scope and aiming equipment he used to shoot. Santos said that Anthony was moving sideways at the time of the shooting, which may have changed the angle of the penetration of the bullet. It was in his recounting of the moment where he took the life of a child that was most chilling. Officer Santos said, “It’s hard to hit something moving sideways.” He didn’t say “some one”, he didn’t say “Anthony” or “a young man” — he said “something” as if hunting an animal or an inanimate object.

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