Los Angeles, CA – A Rhode Island man wearing a ballistic vest was fatally shot by officers after ramming a patrol vehicle and refusing to show his hands while counting backwards, police said.
The incident occurred in Hollywood near Sunset Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue on April 24, after 34-year-old Richard Solitro pulled out in front of a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) patrol vehicle, cutting the officers off in traffic, KNBC reported.
Solitro then threw his vehicle into reverse and crashed into the front of the LAPD cruiser, according to police.
The suspect, who was driving a black sedan covered in writing about new world order, the Bible, government deception and the phrase “King Satan 666,” bailed out of the car wearing a ballistic vest and confronted police while keeping his hands behind his back and out of their view, KNBC reported.
Police said they repeatedly ordered Solitro to show his hands, but he refused.
“The officers gave him commands, which he did not follow, and he started counting down saying ‘three, two, one,’ LAPD Detective Meghan Aguilar told WJAR. “He started to pull his right hand from behind his back out to the front. And at that time, there was a police-involved shooting.”
Solitro died from his wounds at the scene, KNBC reported.
Officers ultimately determined he had not been armed.
Richard Solitro, 34, of Rhode Island, shot and killed by LAPD in Hollywood Saturday, while wearing bulletproof vest, was injured in 2018 police shooting in RI after pulling replica gun on officer, according to The Providence Journal (Photo: Providence PD/ @KNX1070 listener) pic.twitter.com/KFjgx3gLDg
— Emily Valdez, KNX News Reporter (@EmilyValdezKNX) April 27, 2021
Solitro was involved in a similar incident with police in North Providence, Rhode Island in 2018, KNBC reported.
During that interaction, police were were conducting a mental health check at a residence when Solitro allegedly confronted them with a gun.
He pointed the weapon at the officers, who opened fire, WJAR reported.
Solitro was wounded in the incident, but recovered.
Investigators determined the gun he was carrying was a replica firearm, WJAR reported.
The officers were cleared of any wrongdoing by a grand jury in 2018.
Solitro’s father, Richard Solitro Sr., told WJAR on Tuesday night that his son had been struggling with mental health issues for years.
“We reached out to 10 different mental health organizations here in Rhode Island and several in Los Angeles, and all we got was ‘sorry, we can’t help you,’” the elder Solitro said. “We all need answers on what happened here and why the system that was put in place to protect us is killing us.”
— Tyler Dumont (@TylerDumontNews) April 26, 2021
Solitro’s mother, Carol Ballard, said during a press conference on Monday that her son “did not deserve to die this way,” WJAR reported.
His wife, Alexandria D’Angelo, said the suspect had been in California since March, and that they’d been trying to get the father-of-three to come back to Rhode Island to obtain psychological help.
“We believe this tragedy could have been avoided,” D’Angelo told reporters. “We were concerned that something like this would happen, and it did.”
She said her husband “was committed to getting better, but it was always a struggle,” WJAR reported.
“We as his family needed guidance and support, which we never received,” Ballard said. “This has to change. The care of mental illness needs to be noticed as a debilitating disease.”