A man with a Nazi SS tattoo who tried to march with police at a George Floyd protest in Las Vegas, is now facing trial on charges of impersonating a federal law enforcement officer.
Former Marine Zachary Sanns was arrested in June on the charges and indicted on Sept. 29. He pleaded not guilty on Oct. 9 in a U.S. district court in Las Vegas.
Sanns ran afoul of federal law when he reportedly told police and sheriff’s deputies that he was a federal agent while engaging with the “skirmish line” police officers had set up for the protest on May 30. He was spotted armed with a tactical vest adorned with federal officer patches, a ballistic helmet with night vision goggles, a gun belt with a Glock pistol, and Taser, along with an AR-15 rifle that he carried as he walked freely among the real officers.
Sanns’ attire and behavior were “nearly identical to how a plainclothes local and federal enforcement officer would be in this situation,” according to a court filing by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was spotted by police several times, and slipped away in every instance due to the believability of his appearance.
In one instance, a deputy chief with the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, noticed Sanns and told him, “I don’t need you on the front line with an AR-15.” According to the complaint, the deputy chief saw what he thought was a federal badge and presumed Sans was an officer, as well as part of Homeland Security Investigations, as Sanns had claimed.
Sans also made contact with an assistant sheriff who was placated by Sanns’ assertion that, “I’m with the State Department, they deployed us out here.”
Sanns, who is the husband of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officer, also had a record of trying to integrate himself in his wife’s calls out in the field and participate in her trainings.
A supervisor for Sanns’ wife told investigators that he was, “continuously coming to the police station, showing up on his wife’s assigned calls for service, and [had] repeated attempts to include himself in department training.”
However, Sanns’ true identity was revealed when the Las Vegas Review-Journal posted a picture of Sanns at the protest, with an “SS” tattoo on his arm.
“The SS font is the same font used by Nazi SS units in World War II,” a federal complaint from June states.
The tattoo refers to a U.S. Marine Corps special infantry and is a “discouraged symbol used by some Marine Corps Scout Snipers. This photo could have an immediate impact due to the public seeing the symbol and speculating the person in the photo to be affiliated with Nazi or racist groups and ideology,” the complaint reads.
Court documents state that during a June 9 search warrant at his home, Sanns claimed that he never actually equated himself with the federal officers, nor entered the skirmish line. He instead professed himself to be an “off the books contractor for a federal agency,” who was at the police station when officers were requested for the protest. He maintained that the sergeant was adamant his help was needed.
Sanns pleaded not guilty via a video call at the federal courthouse. His jury trial is set for Nov. 30.