DA: Beloit police sergeant acted legally in shooting suspect allegedly reaching for her gun
BELOIT, Wis. (WMTV) - A Beloit police sergeant will not be charged after shooting a man last month when he allegedly attempted to take the officer’s gun, the Rock County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Rock Co. District Attorney David O’Leary explained he had reviewed investigative reports regarding the shooting around 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2021 on Prairie Avenue in the City of Beloit and concluded the officer’s actions were legal and appropriate.
A citizen was driving southbound on Prairie Avenue when the suspect, 29-year-old Jorge Bautista Almaraz, “threw himself” into the passenger side of the driver’s vehicle. Bautista Almaraz then reportedly fell over, got up and walked away.
The report states that the driver attempted to check on Bautista Almaraz’s condition, but he walked away and did not respond. A passenger in the vehicle also confirmed this information.
City of Beloit Police Dept. Sgt. Shannon Dykstra was driving past the scene of the crash and stopped to check on the vehicle. The district attorney says the vehicle had a large dent on the passenger side door and the passenger side rearview mirror was broken and folded in.
As the officer was writing up her incident report, Bautista Almaraz walked past the scene and Dykstra tried to talk to him. Bautista Almaraz stopped for a moment but continued walking away.
Sgt. Dykstra called in additional units because she believed the man was experiencing a mental health crisis, according to the district attorney.
The sergeant tried to make contact with Bautista Almaraz again on Prairie Avenue near Crescent Drive when he allegedly lunged forward and grabbed at the sergeant’s gun while it was in the holster. The report continues, stating Bautista Almaraz got ahold of the gun. A struggle for the weapon then ensued between Dykstra and him.
The report states that Dykstra was able to push the suspect away, draw her weapon and tell the Bautista Almaraz to get on the ground. The district attorney says the suspect allegedly ignored these commands and continued running and lunging at Dykstra, multiple times, as the sergeant continued backing away and delivering her commands.
Bautista Almaraz reportedly lunged toward Sgt. Dykstra one more time before she fired her weapon twice, hitting him.
Officials took the man to Mercy Hospital to be treated for his injuries. He was eventually released and charged with allegedly attempting to disarm a peace office and criminal damage to property in a separate case.
All of the actions were recorded on the sergeant’s body camera, O’Leary noted.
After reviewing the body camera video, photographs of the shooting and reading witness statements, the district attorney determined Sgt. Dykstra acted “lawfully and in accordance with her duty as a sworn law enforcement officer.”
“Sgt. Dykstra was repelling repeated attacks by Bautista Almaraz and was protecting not only her life, but the lives of any civilians who were in and around the vicinity of the incident and who were potential victims of Bautista Almaraz’s life-threatening behavior,” O’Leary wrote.
The investigative reports were prepared by the State of Wisconsin, Department of Justice, Division of Criminal Investigation, as well as reports from the Beloit Police Department.
The City of Beloit Police Department will hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. Friday to provide an update on the findings from the district attorney’s investigation, starting with remarks from Chief Andre Sayles.
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