TALLAHASSEE, FL – The Florida Sheriffs Association is honored to announce that Lieutenant Benny Solis of the Miami-Dade Police Department has been selected as the 2020 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. The award, which is proudly sponsored by United Badges Insurance Services, is presented each year at the FSA Summer Conference to commend an officer who has shown bravery, service, and honor in the line of duty.
Lieutenant Solis is being recognized for his involvement in the conclusion of a homicide investigation. On Sunday, May 19, 2019, uniformed units from the Opa-locka Police Department, along with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (MDFR) personnel, were dispatched to a parking lot to assist a male who was shot. Upon arrival, units observed the victim, Mr. Roberto Cardenas, was suffering from a gunshot wound to his head.
Mr. Cardenas was transported to Jackson Memorial Hospital Ryder Trauma Center where he was pronounced deceased. The MDPD’s Homicide Bureau and the Homicide Street Violence Task Force (HSVTF) responded to the scene and initiated a murder investigation.
HSVTF detectives were able to identify the shooter as Mr. Ronnie Angelo Churches, a criminal recently released by the Florida Department of Corrections after serving ten years in prison for multiple violent felonies. During the investigation, multiple sources advised detectives that Mr. Churches stated he was not going back to jail.
On Monday, May 20, 2019, HSVTF detectives observed Mr. Churches driving a beige 2011 Toyota Prius and then parking outside a private residence in Miami Gardens. The HSVTF requested additional detectives from the MDPD Intracoastal District and Crime Suppression Team (CST) to assist in apprehending Mr. Churches when he exited the residence.
After several hours, Mr. Churches left the residence armed with a rifle. Several detectives drove their unmarked cars near Mr. Churches’ vehicle in an attempt to block him from leaving. As the HSVTF detectives approached Mr. Churches, they issued several verbal commands for him to exit his vehicle. Mr. Churches did not heed these commands, and instead began firing his rifle in the direction of the detectives.
Lieutenant Solis arrived on the scene after gunfire had already commenced. Lieutenant Solis flanked Mr. Churches in order to draw his attention away from the other detectives. Lieutenant Solis then jumped the fence of the residence and gave Mr. Churches several loud commands to drop his rifle. In doing so, Lieutenant Solis effectively distracted Mr. Churches, allowing the other detectives to advance. Mr. Churches did not drop his weapon and he was fatally wounded by the advancing detectives. Life-saving measures were taken, but Mr. Churches was pronounced deceased.
“Lieutenant Solis exhibited exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness, presence of mind, and swiftness of action while working with fellow officers to save and protect human life,” says Miami-Dade Police Director, Alfredo Ramirez III. “His heroic and quick response resulted in the resolution of a highly dangerous situation.”
“Law enforcement officers often have to enter stressful and dangerous situations and rely on their instincts and training to save lives,” said Allen Durham, President and CEO of United Badges Insurance Services. “We are grateful to Lieutenant Solis for his bravery and selflessness in serving the citizens of Dade county.”
Due to his heroic actions, Lieutenant Solis is being recognized as the Florida Sheriff Association’s 2020 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. For more information on this achievement, watch the official video:
Florida Sheriffs Association:
The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of the Sheriffs of Florida, approximately 3,500 business leaders and 90,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has steadfastly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state’s law enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs’ Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and funded the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. It has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit www.flsheriffs.org.
About United Badges Insurance Services:
The mission of United Badges Insurance Services is to proudly serve the first responder/public safety community as a dedicated insurance resource. United Badges is honored to provide a wide array of insurance products to public safety personnel (sworn/certified, civilian, retired, credentialed volunteer), public safety organizations (agencies and associations) and public safety related vendors, manufacturers and other support businesses. Visit www.unitedbadges.com.