A witness statement revealed Monday during a review of a police shooting in Laughlin contradicts Metro’s version of the moments leading up to a man’s death.
Zachary Ryan Andrews, 28, had just robbed a convenience store at gunpoint late Jan. 31 and was confronted by Las Vegas police Officer Samuel Solorio just minutes later across the street from the business. The officer told Andrews to step in front of patrol vehicle, and Andrews followed the order.
But then Andrews pulled a handgun — which police said had been stolen three days before — from his waistband and pressed it to his temple. Solorio tried to convince Andrews not to shoot himself, Metro Homicide Detective Marty Wildeman said during the police fact-finding review.
Andrews refused to put down the gun and moved toward Solorio, forcing the officer to shoot and kill him, Wildeman said. Andrews was pronounced dead at the scene.
But in a statement given after the shooting, a witness said Andrews was moving away from Solorio. Criminal defense attorney Karen Connolly, who was acting as the ombudsman for the review, brought up the witness’ perspective. The witness, who was walking toward the convenience store, said he had a clear view of the shooting.
Wildeman did not say if Andrews’ ever aimed the revolver at the officer, only that his hand “remained at the side of his head the entire incident.”
Solorio did not give a narrative account after the shooting but instead answered a list of seven questions that ask basic information about the incident, such as whether the suspect or other officers fired shots.
An autopsy performed by the Clark County coroner’s office showed Andrews had several painkillers — including morphine, oxycodone, oxymorphone and tramadol — in his system at the time of the shooting. Andrews’ mother told police her son was addicted to prescription drugs, Wildeman said.
Police recovered a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver and $352 in cash from the shooting scene.
Solorio, who’s worked at Metro 16 years, was involved two prior shootings in 2000 and 2001.
When Connolly asked about those previous shootings, defense attorney Ozzie Fumo, who ran the hearing, shot down her questions as irrelevant.
Connolly told the Review-Journal she realizes the review process is not a trial and therefore not held to the same standards for evidence and relevance. But, she said, she believes “the public would like to know more information about that.”
The next step in the review process is for the Clark County district attorney’s office to determine whether the shooting was justified. DA Steve Wolfson refused to take questions from the Review-Journal after the hearing.
This was the 11th Police Fatality Fact-Finding Review, meant to lay out the facts for the public. The process replaced the coroner’s inquest last year.
Contact reporter Colton Lochhead at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4638. Find him on Twitter: @ColtonLochhead.