No charges for South Beloit detective who shot girl in the leg as she drove recklessly to flee police


The end of Ray Castro's flight to Beloit. Photo: Beloit Police Department, March 16, 2024

Winnebago County State's Attorney J. Hanley will not file criminal charges against South Beloit Police Detective Paul Reed for shooting a juvenile driver in the right thigh to stop her from speeding across IL 251 as her boyfriend, with two felony warrants, wrestled on top of Reed in the front seat. The driver was identified only as A.O. in the report because she was a minor. The report of the Mar. 16, 2024 incident says that the red Saturn she was driving "crossed all southbound lanes of IL 251, the center median, all northbound lanes of IL 251 before coming to rest in the ditch" after she was shot. The fugitive, Ray Castro of South Beloit, jumped out of the car, stole another vehicle at knifepoint from a Macktown Lounge employee, and was eventually killed at the end of a dangerous police chase into Beloit, WI.

Hanley's report [PDF] says:

Based upon the totality of the circumstances, Detective Reed's belief that shooting A.O. while he was pinned in the front seat by Ray Castro and while A.O. was driving the vehicle across a busy road was necessary to protect himself from death or great bodily harm was reasonable. Certainly, A.O. driving a vehicle recklessly across a median and into oncoming traffic while Det. Reed is pinned against the front seat under Castro posed an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to Officer Reed.

An officer may respond to the imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to himself or others with equal force - in this case, by firing his gun.

When the officers stopped the vehicle for speeding, Castro was wearing a hood and mask, but Reed and Officer Ramirez knew the girl and knew she was in a relationship with Castro, whom they also knew well. Castro had fled from Officer Reed once before, when he was 16 years old, on July 22, 2021 at 1 a.m. But he was also wanted for armed robbery of a Woodstock, IL gas station on July 10, 2022.

Still, Castro told the officers his name was "Jose Sanchez," with a January 4, 2005 birthdate - false name, correct birthdate. The officers knew that Castro was known to wear a mask in public. Castro refused to get out of the car. When Reed pulled down his hood and mask, he was sure of who it was. When the officers began to arrest him, Castro told A.O. in Spanish to "step on it." 

Officer Ramirez, who speaks Spanish, repeatedly said, "Don't do it," and so did A.O.'s mother, who was on the phone with her. Ramirez was knocked backwards to the ground as the vehicle sped away. Reed, who was pinned down by Castro in the front seat, couldn't see anything but knew they were in a dangerous situation. He was able to get his service revolver out of the holster and fired one shot into A.O's leg. When the car rolled to a stop, the officers grabbed Castro but he eluded them. The officers unsuccessfully used their tasers as he ran, then went back to administer first aid to A.O. and called for an ambulance.

J. Hanley concluded, "Based upon the evidence reviewed and the applicable legal standards, Detective Reed's use of deadly force was justified and thus, no criminal charges will be filed in this case."

No charges will be filed against Roscoe Police Sgt. Robert Lewis either, who filed the fatal shots at Castro when the car chase ended. Lewis says that since Castro had ben on foot, it was "most likely that he had carjacked this vehicle and therefore there was a possibility that the owner had now been harmed or endangered." And when police radio said there had been "shots fired" in South Beloit, it did not clarify that it was "officer shots fired" by Officer Paul Reed. So Sgt. Lewis  says that throughout the chase, he believed Castro "was likely to be in possession of a firearm... I believed the driver would cause great injury to another motorist or pedestrian if the pursuit did not end soon."

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