The Clark County District Attorney’s Office has determined that the Henderson Police Department officers involved in the July 23 death of Andy Soto acted reasonably and lawfully.
“Mr. Soto led the police on a high-speed chase that only ended when his car became disabled, tried to force his way into an elderly citizen’s car once surrounded by police, and refused to show his hands when ordered to,” District Attorney Steven Wolfson said. “He put the public at risk and remained a threat to the safety of the officers and citizens nearby.”
A weapon was not found on or near Soto, but officers reported that Soto had one hand inside the waistband of his pants during the entire confrontation. The report concluded that this, along with Soto’s other belligerent actions, led officers to believe he had a weapon. At the time of his death, Soto was wanted on a murder warrant related to a deadly stabbing on July 4 in Las Vegas.
Traditionally, officer-involved deaths were reviewed by a coroner’s inquest hearing, during which officers and witnesses provided public testimony in a courtroom setting. However, changes to the inquest procedures drew legal challenges that have stalled the process. The last coroner’s inquest hearing was held in September 2010, and there is currently a backlog of 23 cases. In light of this delay, Wolfson ordered reviews of the cases awaiting an inquest hearing. Including the review released today, Wolfson has now released 19 reviews of officer-involved deaths.
According to the review released today:
- On July 23, a group of law enforcement officers from Henderson, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI, were conducting surveillance on a residence on West Pacific Avenue in Henderson in order to try to arrest Soto on the outstanding murder warrant. When a person who appeared to be Soto left the residence and drove away, the police followed and then tried to pull him over when he ran a red light. Instead of pulling over, Soto led police on a high-speed chase that ended when his car struck a raised median at Boulder Highway and Warm Springs Road. Soto then got out of the car and tried, unsuccessfully, to get into the car of an elderly citizen who happened to be passing by. Meanwhile, officers were telling Soto to show his hands, but instead he kept one hand in the waistband of his pants. When Soto made a quick motion with the hand that was in his waistband, officers shot him.
The determination that the officer 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 review is available on the District Attorney’s Web page, along with the reviews completed earlier.
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