Zachary Ryan Andrews kept a gun pointed at his temple as he approached the Las Vegas police officer.
The 28-year-old had just robbed a convenience store in Laughlin for the third time in a month, police said, but two Metro officers caught him hiding near the business shortly afterward. Officer Samuel Solorio ordered Andrews to stand in front of his patrol car. Andrews followed the order, but only for a moment.
As Solorio moved forward to pat him down, Andrews wheeled around and pointed the handgun at his own head.
Andrews told the officer he wasn’t going back to jail, police said.
“You’re going to have to kill me,” Andrews said, according to police.
Solorio kept his gun drawn and backed away, yelling for Andrews to drop his own gun, until he backed into a wall. When Andrews kept walking toward him, Solorio fired two shots.
Andrews died at the scene.
Undersheriff Jim Dixon updated the public Friday on the newest details of Metro’s first police shooting of the year, which occurred the night of Jan. 31. Dixon said Metro’s preliminary investigation shows Solorio, 37, followed his training.
“The officer, at that point in time, had no other alternative,” Dixon said. “If that man had taken that gun quickly off his head and fired a round, he would have had the ability to engage the officer before the officer would have had reactionary time.”
Dixon said Andrews was about 20 or 25 feet from Solorio when the officer fired.
The shooting happened about 11 p.m. outside Laughlin’s South Pointe Market at 3675 Needles Highway. A store clerk called 911 after the robbery.
Dixon said Andrews had robbed the store two other times in January, although Dixon was unsure if a gun was used in the earlier robberies. Dixon said Andrews was carrying a .38 caliber five-shot revolver when he was killed.
Andrews had stolen the gun in an car burglary a few days earlier, Dixon said. Andrews had been arrested previously in Nevada for possession of a controlled substance. He’d also been arrested in Arizona and California, police said.
Dixon said Metro officer Christopher Crawford witnessed the shooting from across the street and spoke to Metro’s homicide detectives, who investigate police shootings for possible criminal charges. Their findings will be submitted to the Clark County District Attorney’s office for review.
Solorio chose not to speak to the detectives, which is the recommended policy of his union.
Both officers are required to speak to detectives with the department’s Critical Incident Review Team, an internal unit which investigates whether Metro policies were violated. Those interviews are not public and cannot be used in a criminal case.
Solorio was placed on routine administrative leave pending the investigation results.
Solorio, a 15-year veteran of Metro, had been involved in two other shootings, although neither was in the last 10 years.
On March 16, 2000, Solorio and officer Michael Maloof opened fire on 18-year-old Roy Caton Palmer, shooting him four times. The officers were called to a domestic disturbance and thought Palmer had pointed a gun at them. The gun in question was later identified as a pellet gun.
On Sept. 6, 2001, Solorio responded to a call about a robbery at a Jack in the Box near Nellis Air Force Base. Solorio saw 26-year-old Roy Philson fleeing on foot and pursued him in his patrol car. Solorio pinned Philson against the wall of a nearby restaurant with his patrol car after the suspect fired a gun at him. Solorio shot Philson twice in the arm and shoulder after the suspect raised his gun again.
Dixon said Solorio was cleared of any wrongdoing in each shooting.
“We’re always concerned when we have an officer that has multiple deadly force situations, but you have to take each one of those on an individual basis,” he said.
Solorio had been assigned to Laughlin since 2007.
Dixon said the department has reduced its shooting since 2010, when the agency had a record 25 shootings. There were 13 shootings last year, with three of those being fatal.
There were 11 shootings in 2012.
Dixon attributed the department’s ongoing efforts in revamping their use-of-force policies and training since the Review-Journal published its series on police shootings, “Deadly Force,” in 2011, and the subsequent investigation by the Department of Justice’s office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
“Our hope is that as we move forward we will continue to be successful in further managing the use of deadly force,” he said.