A 28-year-old deputy in Los Angeles County, California, now faces a murder charge in connection with the horrific 2021 crash that left 12-year-old Isaiah Rodriguez dead and the boy’s sister injured, according to the district attorney.
Prosecutors say that Ricardo Castro was off duty and speeding through a school zone in a pickup truck on Nov. 3, 2021, when he smashed into a turning vehicle at an intersection in South Gate. The car he’s accused of crashing into was driven by Rodriguez’s sister, who was 19 years old at the time. While the young woman survived with injuries, her brother lost his life.
Isaiah Rodriguez was sitting in the passenger seat of the Mercedes his sister was driving. Surveillance video of the horrific crash shows that the passenger side of the car was hit first with the full force of the impact. Authorities said that a passenger in the deputy’s vehicle was also injured in the crash.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office claims that Castro had a history of speeding and was himself a passenger in a fatal car crash just three months prior. In addition, says DA George Gascón, the incident occurred in a 25 mph school zone and the suspect was traveling at speeds as high as 95 mph.
“Driving at 95 miles per hour was nearly quadruple the speed limit when school children are present,” Gascón said in a statement alleging Castro had a “conscious disregard for those children’s lives” that day.
Prosecutors say that Castro could face the next 25 years of his life in prison if convicted of the murder, vehicular manslaughter, and reckless driving charges.
Calling this a “preventable” tragedy that “should have never happened,” the district attorney says that Castro’s actions have “destroyed” Isaiah Rodriguez’s family and ended “an entire future.”
Betsabe Suarez, the boy’s grieving mother, spoke through tears at the press conference where charges were announced Wednesday.
“First of all, I want to say that I love my son. I love you, Isaiah, and I miss you every single day,” she said. The mother shared that her son was killed in the crash three days after he had decided he wanted to be baptized. She also said that her son was helping a bullied classmate that day by getting them a new ruler.
Jail records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Ricardo Castro is currently jailed at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility on a $2,030,000 bond. He was booked on Tuesday evening.
The defendant is scheduled to appear in court next on Feb. 22, Ash Wednesday. The DA’s office said that the appearance would be for a bail review hearing. An arraignment was pushed back to March 23.
Law&Crime reached out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to inquire about Castro’s employment status. LASD confirmed that Castro has been “relieved of duty without pay”:
The Department is aware of an incident in which one of our personnel was involved in an off-duty fatal collision in the city of South Gate. This is an active investigation by another agency, and we are unable to comment about their investigation. What we can say is, Sheriff Robert Luna expects all members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to always hold themselves to the highest ethical and professional standards. Criminal misconduct will not be tolerated and Department members who allegedly violate the law will be held accountable.
The employee has been administratively removed from field duties since the collision; however, has still been receiving pay while it has been under investigation. Subsequently, the investigation led to felony charges being filed; therefore, he has been relieved of duty without pay.
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