Judge Allows New Complaint Against Cops

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A man who claims Bay Area police taunted him after putting him in a straitjacket may file an amended complaint now that he has an attorney, a federal judge ruled.
     Gary Castro sued Union City, its Police Chief Brian Foley and police Officer Christopher Figueiredo in a pro se complaint in 2014, alleging civil rights violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious prosecution.
     Castro claimed that he saw a repeat trespasser looking for recyclables in a trash container at the townhouse community where Castro lived and worked as a maintenance man, and asked him to leave. Castro claimed the trespasser, Sau Nguyen, ran away, on Feb. 4, 2013.
     Castro and another resident found Nguyen lying on the ground, and the other resident took Nguyen’s bag of recyclables, making him angry. Nguyen then ran at Castro and the two tangled, according to the original complaint.
     When police arrived, Castro says, he introduced himself as a maintenance man asked that requested Nguyen be arrested. Instead, police arrested Castro and took him in for questioning. After he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, he was taken to the Fremont jail, which refused to accept him due to his injuries, so he was taken to a hospital.
     When the hospital cleared him for release, Castro claims, Figueiredo picked him off a gurney, carried and dragged him down a hall, dropped him into a wheelchair and took him to a police vehicle.
     “After plaintiff complained that he needed more space, Officer Figueiredo and other unnamed officers placed him in a leather body wrap while he was still handcuffed, making the body restraint as tight as possible, with a fully enclosed helmet, to strap plaintiff’s head to his knees, which cut off plaintiff’s oxygen supply ‘to the extent that plaintiff couldn’t breathe,'” Castro says.
     “Officer Figueiredo and the other officers leaned against the patrol car ‘drinking beverages, laughing, waving, and taunting plaintiff, as his helmet began to fog up, just like a zoo animal in a cage on display for the officer’s entertainment, and even after plaintiff was begging and pleading with the officers for relief.'”
     Union City, an East Bay city between Fremont and Hayward, objected that Castro’s request to file an amended complaint is untimely because “he provides no explanation for waiting more than two years after the incident (and approximately 18 months after filing his original complaint) to allege these causes of action.”
     U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James disagreed. She ruled Thursday that Castro may file an amended complaint because it is “in the interest of justice to allow plaintiff, now with the guidance of counsel, to have an opportunity to set forth his claims with more precision.”
     James found that much of the delay between Castro’s initial complaint and his motion to file an amended complaint was due to judiciary assignments.
     “(A)lthough this case was initially assigned to the undersigned, it was at one point reassigned to another judge due to related case issues, only to be reassigned once again to the undersigned after the related case was dismissed,” James wrote.
     She agreed with Union City’s argument that Castro should not be able to refile Fifth Amendment and injunctive relief claims.
     The court previously dismissed all Fifth Amendment claims with prejudice, and “injunctive relief is a remedy, not a cause of action.”
     Attorneys for Castro and Union City could not be immediately reached for comment.

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