The parents of a 23-year-old man allegedly killed by an off-duty Los Angeles police officer last year in Pomona sued the ex-lawman and the city Thursday.
The case gained significant media attention, in part because the officer fled to Mexico after the shooting with the help of his father. The father has already been convicted in the case and was placed on probation, while his fugitive son was caught in Mexico and extradited to the U.S. where he remains behind bars.
Salome and Lidia Rodriguez, the father and mother of Salome Rodriguez Jr., filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court. The suit alleges wrongful death, civil rights violations, excessive force and unreasonable seizure, assault and battery and survivorship.
The suit seeks unspecified damages. A representative of the City Attorney’s Office did not immediately reply to a call for comment.
The former LAPD officer, 28-year-old Henry Solis, is an ex-Marine who allegedly fled to Mexico in order to escape arrest. He is charged with murder and assault with a firearm, along with a gun allegation.
Rodriguez Jr. was killed about 3:40 a.m. last March 15. The suit states that Solis encountered the victim near Third and Main streets. After Rodriguez Jr. fled, Solis chased and detained him, then shot the unarmed man four times near Third and Gordon streets, the suit alleges.
The victim never threatened Solis and there was “no reasonable basis” for the officer to shoot him, according to the complaint.
During Solis’ recent preliminary hearing, one of his roommates testified that the rookie officer was drunk that night and that he told her, “I killed somebody.”
Laura Rosales lived with Solis and his female cousin, another Los Angeles Police Department officer, less than two miles away from where Rodriguez was shot.
She said Solis called her and asked her to pick him up at O’Donovan’s, a bar on Third Street. Then he called back and told her to meet him on a residential street about six blocks away from the bar, she said.
“He got into the car … he smelled like alcohol. I could tell he was drunk,” Rosales testified.
When she tried to drive home the most direct route, down Garey Avenue, “he grabbed my steering wheel” and told her to take another way home, the witness said.
“He just seemed like he was a little bit out of breath, he seemed like a little bit paranoid,” Rosales said.
She said Solis kept repeating that he had messed up, using a expletive, and threatened to kill himself. Then, standing in their kitchen, he told her, “I killed somebody,” Rosales testified.
Solis, who worked at the LAPD’s Devonshire Division in the San Fernando Valley, was fired soon after becoming the subject of an extensive manhunt.
His father drove Solis out of state and later told federal authorities that he had simply dropped his son off at a Texas bus stop. The pair, however, were caught on surveillance video walking across the Mexico border.
Solis — who remains jailed — was arrested last May 26 by Mexican authorities in the border city of Juarez and deported to the U.S. He had been staying with relatives in the Juarez area prior to his arrest, FBI officials said.
Victor Solis, 53, was convicted by a federal jury in El Paso of lying to the FBI about helping his son escape. He was sentenced to three years probation and fined $1,000.
— Wire reports
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