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5 years later, Chicano nearly killed by LAPD is not done fighting

By Sol Marquez |
August 21, 2020
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Nearly dead, Alfredo Santibañez on the ground, surrounded by cops.
Nearly dead, Alfredo Santibañez on on the ground, surrounded by cops.

Los Angeles, CA - On August 22, 2015 Alfredo Santibañez almost lost his life. Around 11:30 p.m., Santibañez was walking along Soto Street near the 24-hour McDonalds, when he noticed two white, bald men in a Ford Crown Victoria approaching him. Santibañez says he immediately thought they were white gang members.

“Not once did they identify themselves,” said Santibañez recalling the events leading up to his shooting. “One of them asked me without warning, ‘Are you strapped?’”

Santibañez did not know that the two white men in the car were undercover Los Angeles Police officers David Bunch and Boyan Brkic in plain clothes, their car an unmarked police vehicle, had racially profiled him, and had already started stacking up charges against him. No siren nor lights were used as they approached Santibañez with a common question asked by gang members.

Understandably, Santibañez ran towards a friend’s house. Santibañez was shot at five to six times and fell to the floor. As Santibañez suffered from three gunshot wounds, one of the officers jumped on Santibañez and pressed their knee on his neck and wounded leg. A neighbor video recorded as Santibañez asked the officers, “Why did you shoot me?” To which the cops yelled, “You had a gun!”

Santibañez and his neighbors were deeply confused, as Santibañez fought for his dear life.

Santibañez’s mother arrived on the scene and was pleading with police to know who had shot at her son. An officer lied to her face in Spanish and told her, “We don’t know!” She asked, “Are you looking for them?” He replied that they were and to step back. An ambulance finally arrived and transported Santibañez to the hospital.

Alone and after losing tremendous amounts of blood, Santibañez was now alone at the hospital with multiple officers scrutinizing his every move. At one point, when he had lost consciousness, officers began to swab him for DNA and were in the middle of finger-printing him. He woke up and demanded to know what they were doing. They stopped but offered no apology nor explanation.

Alfredo Santibañez’s case went to trial from April 25, 2017 to May 9, 2017 with one of the undercover cops, David Bunch, testifying against him in court. Santibañez was charged with two counts of violating Penal Code section 417(c), brandishing a handgun in the presence of an officer, and Penal Code section 29800(a), convicted felon in possession of a firearm. During the trial, one of Santibañez’s sisters testified that she did not see her brother in possession of a gun and that she also did not see a gun on the ground at the scene, as the police claimed. On May 9, 2017, the jury found Santibañez not guilty of the charges against him, and on June 5, 2017 Santibañez filed a lawsuit against the LAPD.

Five years later, Santibañez and his family are far from putting August 22, 2015 behind them. Diana Santibañez, sister of Alfredo, says, “This happened to my brother five years ago. And he survived being shot three times! Despite the police stalling medical aid on my brother, he survived. To anyone going through anything similar, don’t give up! Don’t be scared to open your mouth and scream. We have to fight back, no matter what.”

“Even if there isn’t any video, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen,” says Alfredo Santibañez. “I survived! George Floyd sadly didn’t. But his killing got the entire country to move. I want others to know we can also stand up when this happens to us.”

The Santibañez family has now joined forces with the neighborhood group Centro CSO in Boyle Heights and will partake in this year’s historic Chicano Moratorium commemoration event. For details on the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1203790706493709 To contact CSO with any tips regarding police abuse, terror or brutality contact them at 323-943-2030, [email protected], centrocso.wordpress.com or @CentroCSO on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

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