LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- A man is facing federal charges after authorities say he impersonated a federal officer at a George Floyd protest in downtown Las Vegas last month.
According to a criminal complaint for Zachary Sanns, he is charged with one count of false personation of an officer or employee of the United States from the May 30 protest. Sanns is accused of identifying himself as a Special Agent of the Department of Homeland Security, an employee of the State Department and a Department of Defense contractor.
The complaint says that night at 7th and Fremont streets in downtown Las Vegas, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers from multiple sections were called to assist those already present at the protest.
Sanns, not in uniform, appeared behind the line of officers — known as a skirmish line. Sanns was wearing a tactical vest, a ballistic helmet with night-vision goggles and his face was covered with a balaclava-type mask. He was wearing a gun belt similar to an officer’s, the complaint said, with a Glock pistol and extended magazine, as well as a Taser-like device. He was observed also carrying pepper spray and an “AR-15 style rifle,” the complaint said. Sanns was first photographed in the gear by Chase Stevens, a staff photographer of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
A deputy chief with the LVMPD said he observed Sanns, and told him, “I don’t need you on the front line with an AR-15,” assuming he was law enforcement. The deputy chief asked him who he was with, and Sanns allegedly told him “something similar to being a ‘federal officer.’” He later allegedly told the officer he was HSI, or Homeland Security Investigations.
LVMPD Assistant Sheriff Chris Jones also spoke with Sanns, who allegedly told him he was with the State Department, and that they were deployed there. Both officers observed what appeared to be a federal officer's insignia on his clothing.
On June 8, the complaint says LVMPD detectives were made aware of the social media post from Review-Journal showing photos of Sanns, then unidentified, with “SS” and “0351” tattoos. The SS tattoo was identified as the same font used by the Nazi SS unit in World War II, while the 0351 was a reference to the Marine Corps. The SS logo is an “unauthorized and discouraged” symbol used by some Marine Corps Scout Snipers, the complaint says.
An anonymous responder identified Zachary Sanns as the man in the photos, the complaint said, whose wife is an LVMPD officer.
When Sanns was contacted by LVMPD’s IAB investigator, Sanns “became agitated and irate, yelling” at the sergeant. Sanns allegedly later told the sergeant he was with the CIA.
Sanns’ wife told investigators he had, on several occasions, appeared at the police station, at her calls for service and repeatedly tried to include himself in police department training.
According to records, investigators said Sanns was not currently employed by any federal agency. He was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from January 2011 through April 2016, and was a contractor for the U.S. Navy from Dec. 2, 2019 to Dec. 23, 2019.
Once arrested, the complaint says Sanns admitted he was at the protest but never identified himself as a law enforcement officer. In the police interview, he said he was “an ‘off the books’ contractor for a federal agency.”