The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of a former Los Angeles police officer who was convicted of murder for gunning down a man while off-duty outside a Pomona bar in 2015.

A downtown Los Angeles jury found Henry Solis, now 34, guilty in February 2020 of second-degree murder for the March 13, 2015, shooting of 23-year-old Salome Rodriguez Jr., along with a gun discharge allegation.

Solis — a probationary officer who worked at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Devonshire Division in the San Fernando Valley — was fired soon after becoming the subject of an extensive weeks-long manhunt that ended with his arrest by Mexican authorities in the border city of Juarez. He had been on the police force for about four months at the time of the shooting.

In her closing argument, Deputy District Attorney Deann Rivard told jurors that Solis “wasn’t acting like a cop” at the time of the shooting and called into question Solis’ claim that he was trying to arrest Rodriguez after being robbed and sexually assaulted by two men inside the restroom of a Pomona bar.

The prosecutor noted that video surveillance cameras along the street captured much of the interaction between Solis and Rodriguez, but not the shooting itself, and urged jurors to ask themselves if Solis’ actions looked like what a police officer would do.

“Nobody in this courtroom … wants to believe that a police officer sworn to uphold the laws … would kill somebody for a stupid reason, for some reason, a slight, whatever it is,” Rivard told the panel, adding that it was the only reasonable conclusion about what had happened.

In urging jurors to convict Solis of first-degree murder, Rivard said Solis “tried to get away with it” and only returned to the United States in handcuffs.

Another prosecutor, Martha Carrillo, told the jury that she suspected “somebody disrespected” Solis and he “zeroed in on the wrong guy” while trying to exact revenge. She said he subsequently told a roommate — using an expletive — that he had messed up and “killed somebody,” and later conceded that it was him because “the evidence caught up to him.”

In his closing argument, Solis’ trial attorney, Bradley Brunon, said he was convinced that his client wouldn’t have been prosecuted if he had stayed at the scene of the shooting. Brunon said the rookie officer “panicked” and “ran away” in what was the “biggest mistake he’s ever made in his life,” but said it didn’t prove that he should be found guilty of murder.

He asked jurors to acquit his client — a former Marine whom he said had “never been in trouble a day in his life.”

In an Aug. 26 ruling, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense’s contention that there were errors in Solis’ trial.

“Contrary to Solis’s suggestions, the jury was not compelled to find he was attempting to arrest Rodriguez as a law enforcement officer. Even assuming Solis was robbed and assaulted in the manner he described (which is far from clear), it defies rational explanation why he would then single-handedly pursue and attempt to arrest two men he knew to be armed and dangerous, rather than reporting the crimes to the police and requesting backup,” the panel wrote in its 22-page ruling.

The justices also called Solis’ decision “just as perplexing” to retrieve only a single pair of handcuffs and to arm himself with a five-shot revolver, rather than his service weapon that was loaded with a 17-round magazine.

“That Solis was acting as a law enforcement officer was further contradicted by testimony from multiple witnesses who observed him shove and argue with Rodriguez before the shooting,” the justices noted in the ruling. “It was also undisputed that Solis subsequently fled to Mexico, hid evidence and tried to dissuade a witness from cooperating with police.”

The defendant’s father drove him out of state after the shooting and later told federal authorities that he had dropped his son off at a Texas bus stop, but the pair were caught on surveillance video walking across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Solis had been staying with relatives in the Juarez area prior to his arrest, FBI officials said.

His father, Victor, was convicted by a federal jury in El Paso of lying to the FBI about helping his son’s escape. He was sentenced to three years probation and fined $1,000.

The victim’s mother, Lidia Rodriguez, told reporters outside court after Henry Solis’ conviction that the verdict “should have been first-degree (murder), but I’m good with second-degree.”

Solis is serving a 40-year-to-life state prison sentence.

After the appellate court panel’s ruling, the defense filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court to exhaust all state remedies, which would allow the defense to then file a federal habeas corpus petition.

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