In a report released today involving the death of Roberto Ortiz Sanchez, on December 14, 2015, the Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the actions of a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officer (LVMPD) were legally justified and reasonable.
On December 14, 2015, 911 received a call from someone reporting he was the victim of an armed robbery. The caller explained that he got into a car to purchase Lortab pills from the people inside. As he got into the car, two people inside, Jesus Sanchez and Renee Martinez, pointed guns at him and demanded his property. When he tried to exit the vehicle, he was forced to stay inside as Jesus drove away. At one point the victim was able to get out of the car and he noted the license plate number of the car as he ran inside a nearby business.
Two officers on patrol in the area heard the reported license plate number broadcast, along with the information about the robbery. Their records search returned an address associated with the reported license plate number. They responded to the associated address and, as they arrived, they saw a vehicle matching the description backing into the driveway of that same address. As they approached the home, they saw the occupants of the car walking from the driveway to the front door. They gave verbal commands to them to get down on the ground. As this was happening, Roberto Sanchez came out of the home holding a gun in his hand. Mr. Sanchez yelled at the three suspects in the driveway who were previously being given commands by police. Officers gave Mr. Sanchez commands to drop his gun, and this was overheard by a neighbor, who also witnessed the incident from inside his own home.
Mr. Sanchez raised his gun and pointed it at the officers. One of the officers fired his gun and struck Mr. Sanchez, who retreated back into the home and collapsed in the living room. One of his two juvenile sons in the house called 911 and reported that his dad had been shot.
Additional officers arrived on scene, cleared the home and rendered aid to Mr. Sanchez until medical personnel arrived. Mr. Sanchez was transported to UMC where he was pronounced dead.
The toxicology report done at the time of the autopsy determined no alcohol or controlled substances were in Mr. Sanchez’s system at the time of the incident.
In the subsequent investigation, police were informed there had been a robbery at Mr. Sanchez’s home several months prior, and that Mr. Sanchez purchased a firearm for protection after that incident. From interviews with those close to Mr. Sanchez, it is believed his actions the evening of the shooting were likely influenced by this prior incident.
"When someone points a gun at officers, especially in an area populated by innocent bystanders, officers have an obligation to protect the people around them, as well as themselves." said District Attorney Steve Wolfson. "By pointing a gun at officers, and refusing to obey their commands to drop the weapon, the officer was forced to fire at him to ensure he did not harm anyone in the area."
A Police Fatality Public Fact-Finding Review was conducted in this incident on October 3, 2016. Clark County Code mandates such a review when a police-involved death occurs, and the prosecutor preliminarily determines that no criminal prosecution of the officers is appropriate
The determination that the officers acted lawfully in this situation is based upon the evidence available at this time. The case could be reexamined if new information comes to light.
The full report is available on the District Attorney’s Web page.