Clark County’s top prosecutor has cleared two Henderson police officers who shot and killed a homicide suspect in July after a high-speed chase.
Andy Soto, 43, was unarmed but tugging at the waistband of his baggy shorts, leading officers to think he was armed, according to a report released by District Attorney Steve Wolfson.
In a statement, Wolfson said Soto "put the public at risk and remained a threat to the safety of the officers and citizens nearby."
The officers acted reasonably and lawfully, Wolfson said.
In June, Soto – high on methamphetamine and paranoid – was thought to have fatally stabbed Scott Harrison at a North Las Vegas home, authorities said.
According to a 16-page report from the district attorney’s website, officers with the Criminal Apprehension Team were tracking Soto as he left a Henderson apartment. Soto may have realized he was being followed and ran a red light, leading to the high-speed chase. Soto’s vehicle crashed. When he got out of the car, he kept his hands in his waistband.
"I have never seen someone so adamant about not taking their hands out of their pants in my life. I still assumed he had a gun," Las Vegas Detective Eric Collins said in the report.
Henderson officer Shawn Thibault said he heard someone ask whether Soto had a gun and heard someone respond yes, but it is unknown who asked or who answered the question.
Officers ordered Soto in English and Spanish to show his hands, but he refused.
Soto tried to get into a nearby vehicle driven by an elderly person, who drove off. Soto grabbed the trunk of the car, but Collins kicked him off the vehicle. Soto fell down but sprang up quickly.
That is when two officers, Henderson Detective Dave Rowlett and officer Daniel Medrano, fired 11 shots at Soto, striking him multiple times.
The two officers did not give a taped statement to the district attorney’s office for the report.
Several officers said Soto’s hands were still in his waistband when he was shot, but his arms were going forward.
A toxicology report showed Soto had methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.
Authorities searched Soto and found two letters to the estranged mother of his three children saying he couldn’t live without her.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.Deadly Force: When Las Vegas Police Shoot, and Kill
Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative series