A man who was forced by Phoenix police officers to eat marijuana last year has filed a lawsuit against the now-former officers and the city of Phoenix.
In the lawsuit filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, Edgar Castro’s attorneys allege the officers caused emotional distress and violated their client’s civil rights that guarantee due process and protect against excessive force.
The suit, which was filed in August but not publicized until a news release on Wednesday, asks for an undisclosed amount in punitive and compensatory damages. A notice of claim for the case, a precursor to a lawsuit, filed in February had asked for $3.5 million.
“The actions of the individual Defendants, and each of them, shock the conscience and were guided by an evil mind,” the suit states. “Defendants intended in injure Plaintiff and/or not intending to cause injury, consciously pursued a course of conduct knowing that it created a substantial risk of significant harm to others.”
The three officers involved, Richard G. Pina, Jason E. McFadden and Michael J. Carnicle all resigned shortly after the incident. McFadden and Pina’s cases are pending review by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board, which may vote to strip them of their law-enforcement certifications in Arizona. Carnicle voluntarily relinquished his certification in November.
The case stems from a Sept. 13, 2016, traffic stop in Maryvale, when Castro, then 19, was pulled over for speeding. Records state McFadden and Carnicle made the initial stop, and Pina arrived later as backup.
The suit states that the officers discovered marijuana in Castro’s car and McFadden told him to eat it or go to jail.
Castro said he asked for his phone so he could record the incident, and McFadden said if he grabbed his phone he would be shot. The lawsuit states that Castro became sick and vomited as a result of eating the marijuana.
The suit additionally states that Lt. Jeffrey Farrior was demoted for not immediately initiating an investigation into the matter.
And it zeroes in on McFadden’s history as an officer in the Chicago area, where he was reportedly disciplined before being hired at Phoenix police.
“With full knowledge of Defendant (McFadden’s) propensity to engage in improper and/or unlawful conduct, which includes but is not limited to neglect of duty/conduct unbecoming of an officer, the City of Phoenix still hired defendant McFadden,” the complaint states.
Shortly after the three officers resigned, local civil-rights advocate Jarrett Maupin held a news conference with Castro asking for police reforms.
Castro, interviewed as part of a story on Maupin’s activist work, said Maupin had treated him well.
“Jarrett’s a positive person, man,” he said. “It was a good experience hanging out.”
In the Wednesday news release that called attention to the lawsuit, Maupin called the case “the most scandalous recent example of abuse of power and police misconduct with respect to the Phoenix Police Department.”
“This trial will make Mr. Castro whole in terms of justice and usher in much needed police training and accountability measures to protect members of the public from a repeat of this type of violence, intimidation, and violations of their civil rights,” his statement said.
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