The rookie Los Angeles Police Division officer who shot a person to demise in downtown Pomona practically 5 years in the past fired his gun in self protection, his lawyer mentioned Monday, regardless of prosecutors saying they’ve footage of the officer repeatedly shoving the sufferer moments earlier than the capturing.
Monday was the primary day of the long-awaited trial of Henry Solis, the 32-year-old former U.S. Marine who joined LAPD simply 4 months earlier than he shot Salome Rodriguez Jr. close to a strip of nightclubs at Thomas and third streets early on March 13, 2015.
In her opening assertion, Deputy District Lawyer Martha Carillo mentioned the 23-year-old Rodriguez, of Ontario, was having a very good time that night time with buddies on the Carnaval night time membership earlier than he acquired concerned within the deadly encounter with Solis.
She instructed jurors she’ll present them the safety digicam footage, which captured solely a part of the combat between Solis and Rodriguez, not the capturing itself.
Carillo mentioned jurors would have the ability to see Solis “pushing, pushing, assaulting Mr. Rodriguez.”
“Rodriguez was strolling away from the defendant,” Carillo mentioned. “He was making an attempt to get away.”
Solis’ lawyer mentioned his shopper feared for his life by the hands of Rodriguez, who at 6-foot-Three was considerably bigger than then 5-foot-11 Solis.
“That huge man may have stomped him to demise,” mentioned Bradley Brunon, the protection lawyer.
Brunon mentioned the combat started when Rodriguez — who left Carnaval together with his buddies at round 2 a.m., then went to get pizza earlier than he separated from the group to depart with one other man in a automobile — returned to go to the Vive Lounge across the nook. His good friend stayed within the automobile, handed out.
At Vive, Brunon mentioned, Rodriguez adopted Solis into a toilet stall, then assaulted and robbed him. Each ended up outdoors the membership, the place Solis tried to arrest Rodriguez.
Through the combat that adopted, Solis tried to persuade Rodriguez he was below arrest, Brunon mentioned. As the boys tussled, they moved down the road and in view of the safety digicam.
Of their opening statements, each prosecutors and the protection dueled over what occurred subsequent.
Carillo mentioned an professional witness will testify that Rodriguez was the one on the bottom when he was shot.
A medical expert from the Los Angeles County coroner’s workplace testified in 2015 that Rodriguez was shot 4 instances — as soon as within the left facet of his neck, as soon as within the stomach, and twice in his left thigh.
One of many photographs to his thigh was deadly, severing arteries in his leg. Displaying the jurors a photograph of Rodriguez’s physique, his left thigh bloody, Carillo mentioned the person tried to crawl away from Solis, then ran to his good friend’s automobile. His good friend was nonetheless unconscious.
Brunon, nevertheless, mentioned Solis was the one on the bottom. He mentioned the deadly shot to the thigh may solely have come from a inclined Solis.
Prosectors didn’t tackle the alleged theft of Solis and refused remark outdoors the courtroom. However witnesses Carillo referred to as Monday testified that Rodriguez was not belligerent that night time.
She confirmed pictures of Rodriguez with a smile on his face, posing contained in the membership with a good friend, a go go dancer he was there to go to.
Carillo requested one witness — 30-year-old Karen Sanchez, who was with Rodriguez that night time on the membership — whether or not Rodriguez was performing violently that night time. Sanchez mentioned she simply remembered dancing with him and different buddies in a bunch on the membership.
“He was having a very good time,” she mentioned.
Along with his arms clasped, the clean-shaven Solis — wearing a darkish gray swimsuit and pants, darkish loafers and white socks — sat silently all through the proceedings.
A roommate of Solis testified in 2015 preliminary listening to that he referred to as her the night time of the capturing, drunk and claiming he “killed anyone.” She mentioned Solis additionally instructed after that night time she’d by no means see him once more.
Solis beforehand patrolled the San Fernando Valley as an officer in LAPD’s Devonshire Division. He fled to Mexico after the deadly encounter, with the assistance of his father who drove him to El Paso and walked with him throughout the border. An intense manhunt adopted, and the LAPD fired Solis.
Mexican authorities arrested Solis about two months later and deported him again to america, the place he was charged with one depend every of homicide and assault with a firearm.
Brunon acknowledged his shopper panicked after the capturing, which led him to flee the nation. However he mentioned Solis operating doesn’t imply he was responsible.
“Flight doesn’t make a lawful act illegal,” he mentioned.
For about 4 years, Solis’ attorneys delayed bringing the case to trial. Solis fired the general public defender initially assigned to him. He fired a second pair of attorneys, and at one level represented himself in some hearings. He later settled on Brunon.
At the very least a dozen members of Rodriguez’s household, together with his mom, grandmother, uncle and several other cousins, packed the again row of the courtroom on Monday.
Some mentioned they had been relieved to lastly see the trial start. However they fretted that after so a few years, the proof towards Solis could be much less convincing to the jury.
“It’s very irritating that it took this lengthy,” mentioned Jose Vidrio, Rodriguez’s uncle. “We’ve been ready this lengthy for us to lastly get justice.”
The period of time that’s handed for the reason that incident was obvious in Sanchez’s testimony. Each Brunon and Carillo tried to get Sanchez to make clear when she, Rodriguez and their buddies left the Carnaval night time membership.
In earlier testimony, Sanchez mentioned she by no means noticed Rodriguez earlier than their different good friend, the go go dancer, ended her shift round 1 a.m. On Monday, she mentioned she did see him earlier than that second. Brunon quizzed her on the discrepancy.
“That was 5 years in the past,” a pissed off Sanchez mentioned.
If convicted, Solis faces life in jail.
Metropolis Information Service contributed to this story.