A disturbing case of police brutality in Phoenix, Arizona, has been resolved this week with the plaintiff accepting a $100,000 settlement as compensation for his assault. The plaintiff, Edgar Castro, was pulled over in September 2016 at 3:58AM for speeding by officers Jason McFadden and Michael Carnicle. The officers saw a small amount of marijuana, some of which was in medical marijuana packaging. Shortly thereafter, the men were joined by officers Kevin Harsch and Richard Pina. Harsch was called away to help another officer but before he did, he overheard McFadden say, “Oh, we should make him eat it.”
Threats to an Unarmed Teenager
The officers cuffed Castro and made him wait in the back of their car while they searched his car. Upon turning up nothing, they uncuffed him and made him sit on the ground. McFadden then informed Castro that if he didn’t want to go to jail, he would have to eat the marijuana. Castro asked Pina if this was true to which Pina replied, “Yeah! You need to eat it.” Castro asked to record the incident with his phone. McFadden responded by telling the unarmed 19-year-old that if he reached for his phone he would be shot.
Left to Walk Home
Despite his protests, Castro was forced to eat the marijuana. Castro demanded to speak to their supervisor, Sergeant Jordan, and asked him, “Is it wrong for an officer to make you eat your weed?” Jordan, believing what his officers had told him, responded by saying that “McFadden stated that it was against the law to have weed.” McFadden told Castro “Don’t get shot tonight” after having the unarmed 19-year-old’s car towed and leaving him to walk home sick.
“Uneasy About the Situation”
After the incident, Castro, who was sick and vomiting after the assault, filed a formal complaint about the incident and Sergeant Jordan notified his superior, Lieutenant Farrior, who didn’t follow procedure, blew off the incident and said he’d look into it later. Jordan, feeling “uneasy about the situation,” looked at the police footage and informed Lieutenant Winchester, who said that it needed to be reported.
Aftermath of the Lawsuit
The list of defendants included McFadden, Pina, Farrior, Carnicle and the City of Phoenix. Farrior was demoted for his conduct and Pina, Carnicle and McFadden all resigned. The plaintiff initially sought $3.5 million and punitive damages against the defendants but settled for the $100,000. According to High Times, it was more about preventing more people from being assaulted in the future.
“The officers who violated me did it because they felt like they could,” says Castro. “They felt their uniforms made it OK for them to be racist… and treat me like a second-class citizen… Dirty cops with records of assaulting people in the worst ways imaginable should never be hired by other departments. There should be systems in place to make sure these sick individuals never carry a gun or a badge again.”
Arizona is 1 of 8 states that has legalized the use of recreational marijuana which may also go towards preventing more incidents of this kind in the future from occurring in the state.