Award of Valor
Officers William Umana and Paul Solomon, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
“Courage Under Fire”
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser (Ret.)
A police officer doesn’t go into battle because of a lack of fear; but in spite of it. In our line of work we’ve seen all types of police officers. Some come to work only for a paycheck and are happy to play it safe; we call them, “report writers.” There are others however, that are referred to as “a cop’s cop,” and go to work highly motivated, proactive, and are proud of the good work they do and the difference that they make. This is a story about two courageous officers who are undoubtedly in the latter category. Their story has captured the hearts and minds of countless like-minded law enforcement officers from across the country, and around the world. After reading this article, I invite you to go to YouTube and search; “Police officer shoots through his cruiser’s windshield during high-speed chase.” I’m sure many of you have already seen this video as I believe it went viral. I remember it well, as it happened on my son’s birthday and I posted it on social media at the time.
On July 11th, 2018, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department received a call of a shooting at a car wash in their jurisdiction. Two suspects, later identified as Fidel Miranda, age 22, and Rene Nunez, age 30, members of the gang “FTC,” (F--k the cops) shot the victim, Thomas Romero, at 0725 hrs. It was reported that the perps fled in a 2002 black Ford Expedition, which days earlier was reported stolen.
The vehicle was spotted at approximately 0930 hrs. by Las Vegas Detective Ramone Brown, who was in plain clothes and in an unmarked vehicle downtown. Officer William Umana, age 43, arrived quickly in his marked radio car. According to Umana, as he drove slowly past the suspect vehicle, the two passengers were looking straight ahead with that “1000-yard stare.” Once Officer Umana spun around and turned on his overhead lights, the suspects initially pretended to pull over, but then immediately gunned it. And so, the chase began as Officer Umana informed L.V. Metro headquarters of the situation. It didn’t take long for the suspects to start shooting at Umana, and in fact, fired 34 total rounds at Umana and backup officers.
When reading this account, you can’t even come close to feeling the adrenaline rush that these officers must have been experiencing at the time. However, as you watch the video of the encounter, you might notice that your heart rate becomes slightly elevated. As you’ll see in the short video, there comes a time when Officer Umana decides to stop playing defense. He clearly decides that it’s time to stop the threat before one of the suspects’ bullets finds one of the pursuing officers, or a passing civilian. Officer Umana puts down the driver’s side window and draws his gun from his holster. He passes his service weapon to his left, weak hand, and points his gun out the window at the suspect vehicle. You can see from the bodycam that he apparently feels uncomfortable with his accuracy and the possibility of a stray round. He then takes steps to ensure that his rounds hit their mark, by firing through his own windshield at the fleeing, yet extremely aggressive felons. After firing 11 rounds through his windshield, he then pulls up closer to their right side of the Expedition and fires 7 more rounds through his open driver’s side window. Umana’s actions quickly paid off as the vehicle slowed dramatically, and rolled into a retaining wall. This was followed by the wounded driver jumping out and attempted to flee while Officer Umana is seen quickly reloading and exiting his cruiser. Umana fires additional suppression rounds into the suspect vehicle, and then is seen taking cover.
At this point, out of view of Umana’s body cam, backup Officer Paul Solomon pulls up and approaches the suspect vehicle on the passenger side. Seeing that the threat still exists, Officer Solomon fired one blast from his shotgun, ending the threat, and Fidel Miranda’s life. Miranda was found to be in possession of a Glock .45, and a Smith & Wesson .40 cal, both of which were used in his relentless assault on the police. A wounded Rene Nunez was quickly apprehended with the assistance of an air unit, at the top of the outside staircase leading to a locked door to the school property. He was armed with a Taurus 9mm handgun. This was the tenth officer-involved shooting, and the fifth resulting in death, so far in 2018. Talk about the “Wild West;” I’d say those cops certainly earn their pay in “Sin City.”
Officer William “Will” Umana, who is still suffering some hearing loss from the incident, continues to receive support from his fiancée, Rochelle Acebal, his daughters, Kaila 16 and Kathryn 15, along with his soon to be step-children, Natasha 24, and Caleb 22. He is expected to return to work after the New Year. I’m also pleased to report that Will is receiving tremendous support from higher echelons within his department and the county, including Sheriff Lombardo, Chief Walsh, Chief Kelly and Captain Chavez. There’s also been an outpouring of support from the department as a whole, the community, and kudos from just about every state, France, the U.K., and Brazil, to name just a few.
Officer Paul J. Solomon has since returned to work and is supported by his wife Leslie, his daughter Cheyenne and son Austin. An incredible couple to be sure, as they are preparing to adopt two more children in the not too distant future.
Both of these heroic officers were flown out to New Jersey to receive Valor Awards from Blue Magazine, at their, 8th Annual LAW ENFORCEMENT Appreciation Dinner on Dec. 7th, 2018. We at Blue Magazine salute you, and are proud to stand with you.