This article has been corrected to clarify what happened during the December 2018 incident.
NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Richard Solitro Sr. confirmed Monday that his son was the man who was shot and killed by officers in Los Angeles over the weekend.
Officers were responding to a call Saturday afternoon when police said a black sedan abruptly pulled in front of them and backed into their cruiser. The vehicle had words and phrases written all over it, including “King Satan 666.”
Police said the driver, later identified as Richard Solitro Jr., got out of the car and started walking towards them with his hands hidden behind his back.
“The officers gave him commands which he did not follow,” LAPD Det. Meghan Aguilar told KTLA-TV. “He started counting down, saying, ‘Three… two… one…’ as he started to pull his hand from his back to the front.”
Police said Solitro Jr. was wearing a bulletproof vest. The officers were forced to open fire, hitting and killing him.
Officers later learned Solitro Jr. did not have a weapon on him.
“Law enforcement is supposed to stop what’s going on, not kill,” Solitro Sr. said. “He was shot three times, that we know of, with no weapons.”
This is not the first time Solitro Jr. has had a run-in with police. Solitro Jr. put a North Providence officer in a similar situation three years ago.
In December 2018, one of Solitro’s relatives called 911 and said he was threatening to harm himself.
When the officer arrived on scene, Solitro Jr. pulled up in a car, got out and started walking toward the officer’s cruiser. At the same time, he pointed what appeared to be a gun at the officer.
The officer asked Solitro Jr. to drop the weapon, but he ignored those commands. The officer then fired several shots at Solitro Jr., hitting him.
He survived, and the officer was cleared of wrongdoing following an investigation into the incident. Solitro Jr. was later charged with felony assault by use of a device similar in appearance to a firearm.
At that time, Arthur Martins, then North Providence’s deputy police chief, said Solitro Jr.’s motive was unclear. Martins was also unsure why Solitro Jr. had a replica gun, adding that it looked “very realistic.”
His wife, Alexandria D’Angelo, tells 12 News her husband was mentally unwell and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“We believe this tragedy could have been avoided,” she said. “Persons suffering from mental illness and addiction are not criminals. They need help. They should not be ignored, marginalized or forgotten.”
D’Angelo and Solitro Sr. said they’ve tried to get Solitro Jr. help in both Rhode Island and California.
They both hope his death serves as a “catalyst for mental health care reform.”
“Richard had challenges with his mental health and had previously been injured by law enforcement,” D’Angelo said. “We want to see funding for mental health services, we want to see the appropriate attention given to people who need it. We want to see law enforcement trained.”