SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – A heartbroken mother told ABC4 News a much different version of her son’s fatal shooting by a pair of Salt Lake City Police officers Monday night.
Police say that Riche Antonio Santiago, 29, shot at the officers in a parking lot of the Park Place Apartments located at 350 East, 700 South. The two officers returned fire, fatally wounding Santiago.
On Tuesday, ABC4 News spoke exclusively with Santiago’s mother and wife just after they arrived from San Bernardino, California for a vigil for Riche.
“My son’s already in the ground,” Bobbie Santiago said. “These cops get to go home and spend time with their family but my son’s gone. You know. At a senseless shooting.”
Bobbie says she has cell phone videos and eyewitness accounts that tell a different version of Monday night’s events in this parking lot. She claims her son was unarmed and using his body to shield an 8-year-old girl when he was shot.
“My son was a good man. A very good man. He had the biggest heart ever and he was leaning over to protect a little 8-year-old girl,” Bobbie said. “I want answers. I want answers on why they hurt my son. You know why they shot him from behind. Why they kept shooting him when they pulled him out of the car and handcuffed him…Why couldn’t they have just shocked my son and dropped him? You know he didn’t have a weapon so I don’t get it….Trust and believe that I’m that Mom that’s gonna come after them answers.”
Riche’s wife Rosa Santiago is the mother of three of his four children. She says he had served time in jail and was planning to move back to San Bernardino. Now he’ll make that journey in a casket.
“You know I wish he could walk around the corner and be like ‘I’m just kidding’ or something. I just can’t ever get him back,” Rosa said through tears. “I wish I could bring him back but I can’t… He was a great person. He was a great father. He was my better half…We have so many memories good and bad. I have children that look just like him so they’re going to remind me of him on a daily basis but yeah I’m going to miss him.”
Rosa says that even though she had been with Richie for five years, their first wedding anniversary is coming up this October.
The SLCPD said that the shooting was captured on the officers’ body cameras. By city policy, they have until August 15th to release those videos to the public. The West Valley City Police Department is handling the investigation into the shooting.
The family tells ABC4 News they intend to hire an attorney to conduct their own investigation.
“My son is a loving man and he’s got four beautiful kids that are going to miss him now, ” Bobbie said. “That are going to be raised without their dad and I don’t get it. I don’t get it.”