Sgt. Sean Rios murder: Jury shown Robert Soliz's Snapchat video after HPD officer's killing

Mycah Hatfield Image
Friday, July 29, 2022
Suspect's Snapchat takes 'credit for taking lives,' prosecutors say
Prosecutors brought Robert Soliz's activity after Sgt. Sean Rios' death to the forefront on day three of his murder trial.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- After the conclusion of day three of the trial regarding the murder of Houston Police Department Sergeant Sean Rios, many questions remain about what happened between the fallen officer and the man accused of killing him. ,

Robert Soliz, 25, is charged with murder after officials said that Rios followed Soliz off the freeway, jumped out of his car, and engaged in a shootout at a plant nursery in the 5900 block of the North Freeway on the feeder road.

Prosecutors showed surveillance video obtained by a Houston police detective working the scene in court Thursday.

The first video showed Rios' car ahead of Soliz's about two miles south of the Gulf Bank exit. By the time both drivers got to the exit, Soliz was ahead of Rios. Soliz was exiting, and Rios was seen in the second to the right lane. The sergeant took the exit late.

No one has testified on account of what happened between the two men that caused them to become involved.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Paul Looney asked the lead HPD detective on the case, Sgt. Maria Resnick, "You have nothing to identify who fired the first shot?" She replied, "That is correct."

There has not been a clear determination made whether Rios was acting in his official role as a police officer or was another motorist involved in a road rage incident.

Rios was headed to Bush Airport, his designated station, while with HPD. He was wearing his police-issued pants and shoes and a Hawaiian shirt. Rios' colleague testified that is how he frequently showed up to work. He also used a non-department registered revolver in the shootout. There hasn't been anyone to testify that they heard or saw Rios identify himself as a police officer.

While questioned by the defense for a second day, Resnick said former Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo made the scene and held a briefing with the media.

Resnick stated she never spoke to him before the briefing and did not know he talked to the media until later.

Attorney Looney inferred that HPD command staff decided early on to proceed, assuming that Rios was "behaving appropriately as an off-duty officer and interrupted illegal activity."

Jurors were shown videos that investigators retrieved from Soliz's phone recorded following the shooting. In the first Snapchat video, he showed his car and the bullet hole in the windshield. He was heard saying that he almost died and "stay on this gangster (expletive)."

The second video was taken in the car, and Soliz dangled a gun in front of his face. He was heard saying a slew of expletives while explaining his weapon jammed, and it almost cost him his life. Another man in the car, identified by investigators as his friend Jason Vasquez, was heard telling him to throw the gun out of the window.

Soliz, appearing unfazed, watched the video alongside jurors.

Detectives attempted to go through Rios' phone but said they could not unlock it using their local technology. A member of the special investigations unit said the phone had to be sent off to another state to collect the data from it.

Through others' testimony, jurors learned they could collect information, but no one has testified what was on Rios' phone.

Prosecutors indicate they plan to call eight witnesses of the shooting to the stand on Friday.

The defense said they plan to "heavily cross-examine" them.

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