Antonio Nunez

On April 25, 2001, L.A. gang members Antonio Nunez, 14, and Juan Perez kidnapped a man at gunpoint and demanded a ransom from the victim’s family. A fake ransom drop was set up by police. When the assailants realized that the police had come to arrest them they fled on the freeway. As Perez drove Nunez shot at pursuing officers with an AK-47, nearly hitting them.

The Truth

Nuñez and his partner Juan Perez, both members of the 18th Street Gang in Los Angeles, kidnapped a 34-year-old man in front of his apartment in Santa Ana. They demanded a kilo of cocaine and a $100,000 ransom from the victim’s brothers. The victim’s family reported the kidnapping and police planned a phony ransom drop. When the kidnappers spotted undercover police officers they fled on the freeway, with the victim handcuffed and gagged in the backseat and Nunez in the passenger seat. At one point, Nunez leveled the gun at the victim and asked his partner if he should kill him. As they were fleeing on the freeway Nuñez fired two volleys from an AK-47 at pursuing officers. Bullets came within inches of those pursuing officers. One bullet came within four inches from an officer’s head. One went through the rifle rack in the front seat of a police car. But, thankfully, no one was hit. As Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh explained, “The fact that we don’t have multiple dead bodies in this case is pure luck.” Perez crashed the car and the assailants fled on foot. They were later apprehended.

The Lies

The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) writes on their website:

“Within weeks of his return to South Central, 14-year-old Antonio got into a car with two older men who picked him up at a party. One of the men later claimed to be a kidnap victim. When their car was chased by the police and shots were fired, Antonio was arrested and charged with, among other offenses, aggravated kidnapping. He was tried in Orange County, California, in a joint trial with the 27-year-old driver” (

The EJI outright denies that Nunez was involved in a kidnapping. Nor do they mention that it was Nunez who shot at police. They don’t even mention that shots were fired from the car Nunez and his partner drove in. They simply say “shots were fired.”

In Just Mercy (page 155-156) EJI founder Bryan Stevenson writes that Nunez was not aware that those chasing him and Perez on the freeway were undercover police officers when he shot at them. This is absurd. The assailants fled because the police had arrived. Of course he knew that those chasing them were police. Stevenson also claims that the victim was a “pretend victim.”

Neither Just Mercy nor the EJI website mention the fact that Nunez was a gang member.


Research by NOVJM.