LAS VEGAS, NEV.– A public fact finding review hearing conducted on Monday has cast some confusion over an officer-involved shooting that left one person dead earlier this year in Laughlin. It seems there is at least one witness who had a different account of what transpired on the night of Jan. 31 when Zachary Andrews, 28, was shot and killed by a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer following an armed robbery of a nearby convenience store. It was the first police-officer involved shooting of 2014 for the police department, which covers all of unincorporated Clark County and the city of Las Vegas. The witness, identified in testimony during Monday’s review hearing as Anthony Leonard, appears to have been the only other person who witnessed the actual shooting. While Metro’s investigation into the shooting determined that Andrews was walking toward the officer that shot him, Leonard’s account, as disclosed during Monday’s hearing, was that he was walking away from the officer. Defense attorney Karen Connolly, who was acting as the ombudsman for the public during Monday’s hearing, focused on the discrepancy while questioning Metro Detective Marty Wildeman, who was the lead investigator into the officer-involved shooting. Andrews was shot by Metro officer Samuel Solorio in the middle of James A. Bilbray Parkway. Solorio was responding to the armed robbery and spotted Andrews as he crossed the road, which runs next to the convenience store. Andrews was crossing from south-to-north. Solorio pulled in front of a Silver Rider transit bus that was making its routine stop at that location on James A. Bilbray Parkway. Leonard had disembarked from the transit bus and was walking across the same road, but from north-to-south when the shooting occurred. In his statement to police, according to Connolly, Leonard indicated that Andrews was walking away from the officer. Det. Wildeman confirmed that Leonard made the statement, and was not allowed to explain why he thought it was in error. Connolly went on to explain how Leonard was the only eyewitness to the shooting other than Officer Solorio. Connolly said– with Det. Wildeman confirming– that Metro officer Chris Crawford, who also responded to the armed robbery and was at the convenience store, was on his way to officer Solorio’s location, had looked away from the actual shooting because another vehicle was heading into the scene and he wanted to stop it. The other passengers on the transit bus that was at the bus stop on James A. Bilbray Parkway were all told by the driver to get down on the floor, so none of them witnessed the shooting. Officer Solorio did not offer any statements nor offered to participate in any interview by the detectives investigating the shooting. He did answer seven questions, which is required by Metro, as part of a “public safety statement” which is designed to assess the existing threat at the time. Wildeman said, his office was notified by the Las Vegas Police Protective Association’s attorney that Solorio would not be making any statements regarding the shooting. The DA’s office will now be tasked with making a final determination as to whether the shooting was justified.
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