A former LAPD officer has been found guilty of killing a Catholic missionary nearly five years after a shooting during an argument outside a nightclub.
Rookie cop Henry Solis went on the run in Mexico after gunning down Salome Rodriguez Jr. while off-duty during a fight outside a Los Angeles bar in 2015.
The former Marine and Iraq veteran spent nine months with the LAPD as a probationary officer before he was involved in the dispute with the 23-year-old as he left the Viva Tequila Lounge and Nightclub in Pomona.
After the argument, Solis chased Rodriguez, who was working as a truck driver at the time, and shot him multiple times in a parking lot, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Shortly after the killing, Solis’ father drove him to El Paso, Texas, where his son crossed the border into Mexico.
The 32-year-old was arrested two months later by Mexican authorities and sent back to Southern California.
His father, Victor, was arrested not long after for allegedly lying to the FBI after helping his son flee to Mexico.
Solis claimed he crossed the border into Mexico alone, but surveillance footage showed him crossing with his son.
The FBI said the pair walked to Juarez, Mexico, from El Paso just one day after the alleged murder.
On Wednesday Solis was convicted of second-degree murder with a gun enhancement and is facing up to 40 years to life in prison.
The jury deliberated for more than two days before reaching its verdict, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Following the verdict and the three-week trial, the victim’s mother said she accepts the outcome, despite hoping for a first-degree murder conviction.
During the trial, Rodriguez’s family were incensed that Solis’ attorney put up a self-defense case and were angry the victim was portrayed as a bad man.
During Solis’ testimony under questioning from prosecutors, he reportedly claimed he did not intend to shoot Rodriguez, but was in fact trying to arrest him.
He alleged in court he was trying to take Rodriguez into custody for a sexual assault carried out on him earlier that night in a nightclub bathroom, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
However, no physical evidence of an assault was presented in court.
Witnesses also testified that Solis was acting strangely, appearing paranoid and aggressive.
He reportedly complained about a lack of respect for ex-military personnel and reportedly talked about the suicide of a fellow marine.
A homeless man who witnessed part of the scuffle between Solis and Rodriguez said Solis shouted a homophobic slur at the victim and his friends.
One witness described how when one of Solis’ two revolvers were pulled out and waved at Rodriguez, the victim put his hands at his side and showed his palms.
Lidia Rodriguez, the victim’s mother, told ABC7: ‘We’re family of prayers and we prayed, and we believed in God and Junior. Today, I prayed to him and the Virgin Mary, and it was happy news.’
Bradley Brunon, Solis’ attorney, told the media he was disappointed by the verdict.
He told the LA Times: ‘Henry Solis is a good person. He spent years serving the country honorably, would have made a terrific peace officer. Unfortunately, this event occurred and derailed his plans.’
Before being caught in Mexico, Pomona Police described Solis as armed and dangerous.
Solis’ Volkswagen Jetta was found on March 15 about four blocks from where the shooting occurred.