Josie Santana said she knew her nephew Edward “Daniel” Santana wasn’t a saint.
When he was shot and killed by a Santa Fe County deputy the morning of July 7, after brutally attacking his mother at her home in Tesuque, he was battling a drug addiction, his aunt and other family members said in an interview last week.
They believe substance use had addled his mind.
They argued, however, that 45-year-old Daniel Santana had cut his own throat before he was tased by one deputy and, shortly after, fatally shot by another. The family members questioned whether Santana was posing a danger to deputies when they fired on him.
The state Office of the Medical Investigator has not yet released an autopsy on Daniel Santana, and neither New Mexico State Police nor the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office has released video of the shooting from the deputies’ dashboard and body cameras. But a state police spokesman confirmed in an email Daniel Santana cut his throat before he was shot.
In an initial news release on the shooting, Officer Dusty Francisco said Daniel Santana “began to walk towards the officers in an aggressive manner” while holding a fence post. When asked in an email last week how Santana was able to show aggression if he had a self-inflicted injury, Francisco replied the shooting was still under investigation.
“NMSP is still actively investigating this incident to determine the totality of the circumstances surrounding the use of force against Mr. Santana,” Francisco wrote. “This will include a determination of the cause and manner of his death by the Office of the Medical Investigator, which will help determine what role, if any, the injury to Mr. Santana’s neck played in his death.”
Santana stabbed his mother, 67-year-old Delia Cervantes, causing fatal injuries. He was still standing on the patio of her home, near where she was lying on a bench and bleeding from her injuries, when Santa Fe County deputies arrived in response to a call about the attack.
Josie Santana said Monday the incident was horrifying and complex. Still, she said she hopes the truth comes out about why a law enforcement officer shot her nephew.
“If it was confirmed by state police [that his neck was cut], then the lapel video should be public now, too,” she said.
Daniel Santana’s death was the third fatal shooting by law enforcement in the Santa Fe area in a two-week period.
On the morning of June 23, Santa Fe police Sgt. Bradley Lopez fatally shot Francisco Javier Lino-Gutierrez, 29, of Lamy on Old Santa Fe Trail. Lino-Gutierrez was a suspect in a shooting that morning at De Vargas Park.
Late that night, sheriff’s deputies Leonardo Guzman and Jacob Martinez and Cpl. Chris Zook shot and killed 32-year-old Nathan Roybal on Siler Road.
The sheriff’s office had put out an alert for Roybal and the black Ford Ranger he was driving after he was accused earlier in the day of pointing a gun at a woman on Lopez Lane and leading deputies on a reckless, high-speed chase, according to a report of the incident and statements by state police.
Guzman, a former Santa Fe police officer who was cleared in the fatal shooting of a suspected car thief in 2017, encountered Roybal in the stolen Ranger around 11 p.m. June 23 on West Alameda Street, state police said.
Roybal led the deputy to Siler Road, sometimes while driving in reverse, until he stopped the truck at the intersection of Rufina Court.
A series of dashboard camera videos of the incident released last week shows deputies ordered Roybal to get out of the truck, but he didn’t comply.
Instead, he waved a gun out the window and fired a shot. The deputies then fired about 20 shots back at the Ford Ranger, the video shows, riddling it with bullet holes.
Roybal waited a few moments after the firing stopped and then got out of the truck, immediately dropped the gun and began running across Siler Road, the videos show. The three deputies fired again, fatally striking him as he was fleeing with his back to them.
State police spokesman Ray Wilson has described a different series of events leading to the fatal shooting. Wilson wrote, “Roybal got out of the vehicle armed with the handgun. Roybal brandished the handgun towards deputies, who again fired at Roybal. Roybal was struck by gunfire and succumbed to his injuries.”
Wilson has not explained the discrepancies between his description of the shooting and what is shown in the deputies’ videos.