DA: Beloit officer acted legally in shooting man who allegedly reached for her gun

BELOIT, Wis. — The Rock County District Attorney’s Office has concluded the Beloit police officer who shot a man who allegedly tried to grab her gun last month acted legally and appropriately during the incident.

In a news release Friday afternoon, District Attorney David O’Leary said he has reviewed reports from the state Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation and concluded 29-year-old Jorge Bautista Almaraz “was shot and as a direct result of (his) own actions.”

Beloit Police Sgt. Shannon Dykstra shot him following an altercation during a welfare check on December 15.

According to the release, Dykstra responded after a person reported Bautista Almaraz “threw himself” into their vehicle in the area of the 1500 or 1600 block of Prairie Avenue around 7:30 p.m. that day. The driver reportedly tried to talk to Bautista Almaraz to check on him but he kept walking away.

Dykstra saw Bautista Almaraz while she was taking an accident report and tried to talk to him, but after a momentary pause he kept walking away, the release said. Dykstra reportedly believed Bautista Almaraz was suffering from a mental health issue and called for backup units as she tried to talk to him.

“Sgt. Dykstra subsequently attempted contact with Bautista Almaraz on Prairie Avenue south of Crescent Drive and as she is talking to Bautista Almaraz attempting to check his welfare, Bautista Almaraz lunged forward with his right hand and grabs at Sgt. Dykstra’s duty weapon as it is still in its holster,” the release said. “Bautista Almaraz physically gets a hold of Sgt. Dykstra’s holstered duty weapon and a struggle ensues.”

Dykstra was able to put distance between herself and Bautista Almaraz before pulling out her gun and telling him to get on the ground. Despite that, he continued toward her, lunging toward her multiple times, Beloit Police Chief Andre Sayles said during a news conference Friday afternoon. Dykstra fired two shots, hitting him.

Bautista Almaraz was treated for his injuries at Mercy Hospital in Janesville before being released and charged with attempting to disarm a peace officer and criminal damage to property.

Sayles said his department will now conduct an internal review of the incident. Dykstra remains on administrative duty pending the completion of that investigation.

The chief urged patience while the department conducts its review, which he expects to take a few weeks.

“We anticipate a thorough investigation by our command staff and our team,” he said.

Dykstra’s body-worn camera footage is not being released at this time due to the ongoing criminal case.

Online court records show Bautista Almaraz made an initial appearance on Monday and has an adjourned initial appearance scheduled for January 26.

Dykstra was not injured in the incident, Sayles said.