On September 23, 1986, Deputy Sheriff Richard Raczkoski responded to a 911 call that was placed from the pay phone of a Zippy Mart convenience store near Vero Beach. According to Reaves, he had placed the call because he did not have money for a taxicab. The deputy called the 911 dispatcher to order a cab and inquired about outstanding warrants for William Reaves.
According to Reaves’ confession, a gun allegedly fell out of his pants while he and the deputy were standing, waiting for the cab. The deputy blocked Reaves' attempt to retrieve the gun and a struggle ensued. Reaves then alleged that he grabbed Deputy Raczkoski by the throat and regained control of the gun. Reaves then shot Racezkoski four times. The deputy died later in the morning.
Reaves then went to visit a friend and bragged about shooting Raczkoski, telling him that he had "just shot a cop." He went on to say that he did it because he was high on cocaine and panicked.
A firearm expert testified that the type of gun used to murder Raczkoski had to have the trigger pulled each time to fire. Another witness testified that he saw Reaves during the afternoon of the murder and that he did not appear to have been using drugs or alcohol.
After receiving a tip, the police went to arrest Reaves at a bus station on September 26, 1986. Reaves fought with the officers, but he was brought under control and arrested for murder.