(LOS ANGELES) — A former Los Angeles Police Department officer was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison for the murder of a 23-year-old man.
Henry Solis said he was acting in self-defense while attempting to arrest Salome Rodriguez on March 13, 2015, in Pomona, California, for an alleged assault and robbery, according to court documents.
Police at the time of the shooting said Solis and Rodriguez got into an altercation that escalated after Solis pursued the other man on foot and fired multiple shots.
But prosecutors with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said Solis pursued Rodriguez as he walked past him outside an unnamed bar, opened fire and killed Rodriguez, according to a statement issued on Wednesday after the sentencing.
Although Solis was off duty and a probationary officer at the time, he testified in his own defense that he is “on duty 24 hours a day” and even presented his badge during the encounter, according to court documents. Surveillance video from the street captured portions of the incident and was shown at trial, according to court documents.
A jury found 32-year-old Solis guilty of second-degree murder in February after two days of deliberations.
Solis’ attorney Bradley Brunon was “disappointed” with the verdict, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Henry Solis is a good person. He spent years serving the country honorably [and] would have made a terrific peace officer,” Brunon said, according to the LA Times. “Unfortunately, this event occurred and derailed his plans. … We felt that the evidence didn’t warrant a murder conviction — perhaps manslaughter on a theory of provocation or imperfect self-defense. [The] jury didn’t agree. Forty to life is a big jolt for anybody, particularly somebody who’s never had a misdeed in his life.”
After the shooting, Solis fled the scene and met up with his father, who drove him to El Paso, Texas, where he crossed the border into Mexico, prosecutors said. His 53-year-old father was convicted by a federal jury in June 2015 for making a false statement to the FBI about Solis’ whereabouts.
Solis was fired by the LAPD while on the run and before he was arrested by Mexican authorities in May 2015.
Rodriguez’s mother and father filed a federal civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Central District of California against Solis, the city of Los Angeles and 50 unidentified people.
The city responded to the lawsuit, saying that it “lacks sufficient information” but noted that Solis’ actions were “reasonable and necessary for self-defense,” according to documents.
Solis failed to appear in court and did not respond to the lawsuit, according to court documents.
The lawsuit was put on pause in January pending the results of the criminal trial.
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