Jurors saw social media video of a murder defendant talking after he allegedly fatally shot a Houston police sergeant.
Robert Soliz, 25, flashed a handgun in Snapchat footage, according to Houston ABC affiliate KTRK. After an encounter on the North Freeway, he and Sgt. Sean Rios, 47, got into a shootout outside a plant nursery, where the law enforcement officer was fatally struck.
Prosecutors showed two Snapchat videos in the ongoing trial. The first footage depicted Soliz’s car with a bullet hole in the windshield, the outlet reported. He reportedly said he almost died, and said “stay on this gangster [censored].”
In the second footage, he dangled a gun — the alleged murder weapon — in front of his face. He said the firearm jammed and this almost cost him his life, the outlet said, reporting that the judge only let them record the visuals, not sound. But prosecutors say it was his friend Jason Vasquez who told him on video to toss the gun out the window.
Our hearts are broken over the death of @houstonpolice Sergeant Sean Rios who was shot and killed during an exchange of gunfire this afternnon. We will never forget him and will see his 4 children, family and friends through this painful loss. RIP pic.twitter.com/QBHx2bymWY
— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) November 10, 2020
This all appeared to start when Soliz allegedly crossed several lanes to take the Gulf Bank exit on North Freeway. Rios, a 25-year HPD vet and a father of four, followed Soliz to the Cactus King plant nursery, prosecutors reportedly said in opening statements Tuesday. Rios stopped his car, with the tail hanging out in the road, driver’s door open, phone lying on the ground, prosecutors said.
Soliz reportedly ran into the Cactcus King, and Rios followed. Rios allegedly went into a fighting stance as Soliz pointed a gun at him. Soliz “aggressively” shot at Rios, prosecutors said. The sergeant ran into a nearby hotel and asked for help, but he died in the lobby.
Soliz’s attorney is arguing self-defense.
“Whatever you think about Robert, the way he looks, the way he stands, the way he talks, Robert had the right to defend himself,” defense lawyer Paul Looney reportedly said.
Through cross-examination, he is trying to prove detectives failed to scrutinize Rios, who was off-duty at the time, as a possible suspect for the confrontation. Looney said they simply assumed he was acting “appropriately as an off-duty officer and interrupted illegal activity.”
Just before trial over the death of HPD Sgt. Sean Rios ended for the day, defendant Robert Soliz’s attorney asked the lead detective, “Would you agree with me there was very little investigation done to determine whether Sean Rios was responsible for this incident?” She said yes.
— Mycah Hatfield (@MycahABC13) July 27, 2022
— Houston Police (@houstonpolice) November 12, 2020
“You have nothing to identify who fired the first shot?” Looney said.
“That is correct,” said lead detective Sgt. Maria Resnick.
Rios’ gun was not his registered service weapon, the defense said.
[Images via Houston Police Department]
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