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Criminal Justice

Former Sheriff's Deputy Faces Murder Charges For High-Speed Crash That Killed A Child

Six pointed star with the words Los Angeles County Sheriff and a bear in the middle of the star.
A former Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy has been charged in the death of a 12-year-old boy.
(Justin Sullivan
Getty Images)
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L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón announced the arrest Wednesday of a former L.A. County sheriff's deputy in the death of a 12-year-old boy in November 2021.

Authorities said Ricardo Castro, who at the time of the collision an off-duty, crashed into another car while driving significantly past the speed limit in a school zone. He was not on duty.

About the crash

Castro allegedly T-boned a car at an estimated 90 mph in a 25 mph school zone. The driver of the car he struck, a 19-year-old woman, was severely injured. The passenger, her 12 year-old brother Isaiah Rodriguez, was also severely injured and later died at the hospital.

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What are the charges?

Castro is being charged with vehicular manslaughter, murder, and reckless driving.

“The deputy showed a conscious disregard for the lives and safety of the people of South Gate by recklessly speeding on a busy street, Gascón said. "The behavior is even more confounding since this happened in an area designated as a zone where school children were present."

The backstory

Castro, 28, had a record of traffic collisions and tickets for speeding, according to the DA. He was a passenger in another fatal car crash three months before the collision that killed the child. Since the collision, he has been dismissed from the L.A. County Sheriff's Department.

What's next?

Castro is being held at the Twin Tower Correctional Facility in Los Angeles on $2 million bail. He appeared in court today, but his arraignment was continued until March 23. A bail review hearing is set for February 22.

Why it matters

A significant part of Gascón's campaign to defeat Jackie Lacey in 2020 centered around his promise to hold law enforcement members responsible for their actions. In his few full year in office, the department says it "filed charges against 21 officers from seven agencies for crimes ranging from murder to filing a false report under penalty of perjury." Since he was elected, Gascón has faced multiple unsuccessful recall attempts.

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Corrected February 16, 2023 at 8:01 AM PST
An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the fatal traffic collision as an accident. LAist does not use that term to describe crashes. Here's the guidance from our Dialogue style guide:

Our newsroom does not use the term accident for traffic collisions. This makes a crash sound like an unavoidable result of increased vehicle use and risks minimizing responsibility when little is known. Unsafe speeds, inattentive driving, and decades of transportation disinvestment also contribute to a collision. Using words like collision and crash are acceptable.

Avoid using the phrase hit/killed by a car. This removes the onus of responsibility from the driver. Whether a crash was intentional or not, vehicles are tools used by people. Acceptable phrases include the driver hit a person with their car (or a phrase more accurate to the story).

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