sergeant. Sean Rios murder trial: Houston police detectives agree slain officer not considered a suspect in fatal shooting
HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) — On the second day of the trial of Sgt. The accused killer of Sean Rios, defense attorneys pointed out that Rios had not been investigated for potential wrongdoing on the same level as the suspect.
Robert Soliz Jr., 25, is charged with murder in Rios’ death in November 2020.
Prosecutors handling the case said in their opening statements that Soliz was in the second lane from the left on the highway north and was crossing multiple lanes of traffic to take the Gulf Bank exit. Rios, who was off duty at the time, followed him and they got into a shootout outside a nursery on the manger. It was not mentioned if anything had happened between the two on the highway.
After being shot, Rios fell into a nearby motel, where he died.
At the time of the shooting, Sgt. Maria Resnick worked in the Special Investigations Unit, which is responsible for investigating all shootings involving officers and allegations of criminal acts involving officers.
She was called to the stand by prosecutors as the 10th trial witness on Wednesday afternoon.
During the investigation, she reviewed Soliz’s surveillance video right after the shooting. The video showed Soliz and his friend, Jason Vasquez, allegedly at the scene of the shooting outside Soliz’s girlfriend’s auto shop, GTO Transmission.
The video had a hard-to-hear sound, but was later enhanced by investigators.
Resnick listened to the audio in front of jurors and discovered that Soliz had been heard saying, “My (expletive) got stuck.” They determined he was talking about his gun.
Prosecutors pointed out that Soliz had his phone in his hand and was taking photos or videos of his car but never called 911.
Defense attorney Paul Looney questioned Resnick about the scope of his investigation and the extent of the investigation into Rios’ involvement.
During questioning, it was learned that investigators had obtained copies of the phone records of Soliz, his girlfriend and Rios.
Resnick couldn’t remember who the last person Rios had spoken to on the phone was or who or what he said in his last text messages before his death. Looney instructed the detective to obtain copies of the records before the trial resumes Thursday. She said it would be very hard to get.
The lead detective admitted that they did not obtain a search warrant for Rios’ social media or review his social media accounts. She said they couldn’t find a “Facebook or Tinder” for the sergeant, but admitted they didn’t do a thorough search.
Prior to filming, Looney said Rios had lunch with a woman named Jerri Tran. They didn’t say how she knew Rios, but the witness list on the district clerk’s site lists her as a peace officer. Investigators have not obtained a search warrant for his phone records or spoken to him.
Resnick admitted they didn’t review Rios’ finances and she didn’t review the toxicology portion of his autopsy because “at the time, I didn’t think it was relevant to my investigation. “.
“Would you agree with me that there have been very few investigations to determine if Sean Rios was responsible for this incident? Looney asked.
“Yes,” Resnick replied.
She said no one questioned the scope of her investigation.
Looney also pointed out that Rios was never counted as a possible suspect in the case. They called Soliz and Vasquez suspects.
Resnick said no when Looney asked the detective if anyone on the highway north had called 911 about an incident before the shooting.
sergeant. James Sanders made the scene the day of the fatal shooting. He was the last witness on the stand Tuesday and returned Wednesday morning.
Looney also questioned protocol when officers discover a crime or situation in progress while off duty.
Sanders said they could step in or not. If they choose not to, they must become the “best witness possible”. If they choose not to, he said they are governed by the same regulations as if they were on duty.
“I believe, identify yourself as an officer and then contact the dispatcher as soon as possible,” Sanders said of the protocol.
The defense attorney allowed Sanders to read general police orders on the stand. They agreed they are not authorized to conduct a pursuit if an officer is in a car without emergency equipment, such as lights and sirens, or in a private vehicle.
“If a Houston police officer breaks all of these rules in one episode, would that concern you?” Looney asked.
“It’s possible. Yes,” Sanders replied.
The sergeant agreed with Looney that this would indicate that the officer was not exercising good judgment and was putting himself and the public in danger.
It’s unclear how many witnesses the defense plans to call, but prosecutors said they hope to rest on Friday.
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