Ricardo dos Santos at Teahupoo in 2013. Photo: Thouard

Last week, with more than 1,000 mourners in attendance, the parents and friends of Ricardo dos Santos stood over his flower-laden coffin and laid him to rest in his hometown of Guarda de Embau, Brazil. As the surf world continues to mourn the loss of dos Santos, new details surrounding the circumstances of his murder arose.

According to testimony from witnesses, Ricardo was working on his property when he asked the occupants of a car, which was blocking access to a pipe he needed to work on, to move around 7 a.m. Monday morning. Words were reportedly exchanged between the occupants of the car, Luiz Paulo Mota Brentano, a military policeman who had been in service since 2008, and his 17-year-old younger brother.

Witnesses who were at the scene of the crime say that Ricardo was shot in the back as he walked away from the car. A recently released medical report confirms that Ricardo was indeed shot in the back and that he was hit by two, not three bullets, as had been previously reported. One bullet pierced multiple vital organs while the other hit his spine.

Mauro da Silva, dos Santos’s uncle, told The Guardian that Ricardo approached the car and asked the occupants to move when the suspect said, “We’re the ones in charge here.” Dos Santos reportedly replied that this was his hometown and had never seen them before. As he walked away, the man reportedly opened fire.

In a statement made to investigators, Brentano, the accused, says that he shot dos Santos in self-defense and that dos Santos was armed with a machete. The latest post-mortem report, which, again, concludes that dos Santos was indeed shot in the back, weakens Brentano’s self-defense claim. No knife was found at the scene of the crime and the only witnesses claiming that dos Santos was armed are the suspect and his younger brother. Ricardo’s grandfather is reported to have had a tool, a pickaxe he was using to work on the pipe, at the time of the incident, but has been adamant that he only had it in his hands to work. Further adding trouble to Brentano’s claims arose when Marcelo Arruda, the chief investigator, told The Guardian that the two suspects had been drinking and partying all night. A toxicology report is said to confirm this.
Brentano, who has been in service as a military police officer for more than seven years, has faced multiple charges of abuse of authority and violence claims against him in the past, but was acquitted. He’s currently being held at a military barracks near Florianopolis as police conclude their investigation.