Philadelphia police conducting internal investigation after teens in stolen car kill motorcyclist

2 responding officer have been placed on administrative leave, officals say.

Thursday, May 30, 2024
Philadelphia police conducting internal investigation after teens in stolen car kill motorcyclist
Philadelphia police are conducting an internal investigation after teens in a stolen car fatally struck a motorcyclist in Philadelphia Tuesday night.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are conducting an internal investigation following a deadly crash involving a stolen car.

Five teenagers are in custody, including 17-year-old Bryce Neely, who is facing a murder charge.

Wilberto Casillas, 55, of Philadelphia, was killed when the car full of teens crashed into his motorcycle.

Two responding officers have been placed on administrative leave as investigators look into their actions before the crash.

The fatal crash happened on Front Street at Hunting Park Avenue at approximately 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Officers say a stolen Kia SUV was traveling north on Front Street when it ran a red light and struck Casillas' silver Harley Davidson motorcycle while he was traveling west on Hunting Park Avenue. The crumpled motorcycle slid several feet before coming to a stop.

"The operator of the (stolen) motor vehicle slowed but did not stop at a number of traffic devices, ran multiple lights before where the fatal crash occurred," noted Assistant District Attorney Anthony Voci during the press conference.

Investigators later learned that the Kia had been reported stolen on Monday from Northeast Philadelphia.
Investigators later learned that the Kia had been reported stolen on Monday from Northeast Philadelphia.

Casillas was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators say he did not appear to be wearing a helmet.

"We would actually see stuff like this all the time and talk about it," said Casillas' friend, Emerald Martez.

Action News has obtained the newest surveillance video, which was captured two blocks from the crime scene.

In surveillance video, a small white Kia SUV matching the description of the suspect vehicle is seen making a right onto Front Street from Erie Avenue minutes before the fatal collision.

The Kia was being closely followed by three police cruisers and a van, all of which had their lights on.

However, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner would not say whether officers were chasing the five teenagers in the stolen Kia.

After the collision, the Kia continued down Front Street for about 1,000 feet before pulling over. Then, the driver and other occupants in the car tried running, according to investigators.

Chief Inspector Scott Small, with the Philadelphia Police Department, told Action News that officers were on the scene moments after the crash took place.

"Some officers immediately went to aid the motorcycle operator because they realized he was lying on the highway," Small said. "Some officers went to aid that driver and other officers chased the juveniles that fled from the Kia on foot. They did a great job and apprehended all five of them."

Officers say they pursued five juveniles on foot for about two blocks.

That's when Neely was taken into custody.

Neely is being charged as an adult and will be facing 11 total offenses, eight of which are felonies, Krasner said. Some of those charges include third-degree murder, homicide by vehicle, and theft.

Investigators say he did not have a license, ran multiple red lights and was speeding before the crash.

"So, when you add all those facts together, I think that comes to a level of recklessness which I think supports the 3rd-degree murder charge," said Anthony Voci, Supervisor, Assistant District Attorney for the Juvenile Homicide Unit.

The other teens, all females between the ages of 14 and 17, were also apprehended. They are all facing charges of receiving stolen property, conspiracy, evading arrest, and unauthorized use of motor a vehicle.

Investigators later learned that the Kia had been reported stolen on Monday from Northeast Philadelphia and are looking into whether this might've been a situation similar to the "Kia Boys" challenge where people steal older model Kias.

People who knew the motorcyclist were emotional at the scene. They were seen hugging and crying as police conducted their investigation.

55-year-old Wilberto Casillas of Philadelphia
55-year-old Wilberto Casillas of Philadelphia

"This is a strong man, this is somebody who did not deserve something so tragic and public," noted Emerald Martez, a close family friend of the victim who referred to him as Uncle Will.

"He's not one of those riders who speeds, runs stoplights or red lights," Martez added.

Family and friends of Casillas say he was a husband, father and grandfather who enjoyed fixing bikes and that others looked up to him.

"Just a big presence of a man and loving, and courageous and just remember him like that. This type of man that we want our kids to grow into," Martez said.

Anyone with information on this incident is asked to contact the police.

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