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March 7, 2012 — Miami Lakes

Officers broke open the front door of a suspected drug house using a sledgehammer and pry bar.

Once inside, they confronted marijuana dealer Michael Santana, who police said was holding a gun. Officer German Alech shot him twice, and unsure if Santana was surrendering or not, shot him a third time, according to a report.

Santana, 26, hit twice in the chest and once in the back, collapsed in the foyer of his home and died. Read more

Police found several guns in the house and fewer than seven ounces of marijuana. Santana's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit. His girlfriend contended that she and Santana thought that they were being robbed and that when the police told Santana to drop the weapon, he tried to tell the officers he would comply, put his hands up and was on his way down to the ground when he was shot. Santana's girlfriend couldn't be sure if he put the gun down before or after he was shot.

The judge said that a security video conclusively proved that the officers did not announce themselves in the one to two seconds it took them to approach and break into the house. The judge, however, ruled that it ultimately didn't matter, and that because Santanta's girlfriend admitted that her view of the scene was obstructed, Alech's version of events was more reliable. The judge made a summary judgment in favor of Alech and the county.

According to the Miami Herald, after this incident and another controversial one in 2011 involving many members of the same response team, seven members were transferred, including Alech, who was moved to a marine patrol.

This was the 23rd police shooting in Florida in 2012.

Two days earlier, two officers shot one person in West Palm Beach .

One day later, two officers shot one person in Pompano Beach .

4 ways this case compares to others

  1. Officer Alech was involved in two other shootings from 2009 to 2014. Only 10 officers were involved in more than two shootings in that time period.
  2. A SWAT or tactical team was involved in the incident. Tactical teams are involved in 7 percent of police shootings.
  3. Santana was armed with a firearm. That’s true of almost half the people shot.
  4. A civil lawsuit was filed in response to Santana's shooting. Ninety other cases led to lawsuits.

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