Edgar Castro was 19 years old when he was pulled over by Phoenix Police Department for traffic violations. According to his lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court, when officers found marijuana in his car they told him he could be charged with a Class 6 felony and his car would be towed due to the traffic violations.
According to Castro’s complaint, filed on Aug. 30 in Maricopa County Superior Court, the pot was in packaging from a medical-marijuana dispensary. It does not mention whether Castro had a medical marijuana card.
While the officers were discussing what to do about the marijuana, Castro claims one of them said, “Oh, we should make him eat it.”
Frightened of being sent to jail, Castro says he ate the marijuana, which took several minutes to clear from his mouth and later made him vomit. According to the lawsuit, he asked officers several times if he really had to eat the pot and was told that he did.
Castro says he asked for his phone so he could record the incident, but officers told him he’d be shot if he reached for the phone. The man also asked for a drink to help him with eating the marijuana but none was found, according to the lawsuit.
Although Castro was not arrested, he says his car was towed and he walked home. As he left, one of the officers warned him, “Don’t get shot tonight,” the lawsuit says.
Later, Castro reported the incident, and an investigation eventually led to the resignation of defendants Richard Pina, Jason McFadden and Michael Carnicle, all of whom were on the scene that night and who were probationary officers in their first year with the department. Lt. Jeff Farrior, who had been tasked with the initial investigation, was demoted to sergeant for failing to investigate the incident correctly.
Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner issued a statement regarding the incident and subsequent investigation, stating that two of the officers involved had been identified as possible suspects in a criminal investigation.
“As your police chief, I want you to know how appalled I was when I was informed about these allegations,” Yahner said. “The conduct alleged by our resident is contrary to everything we stand for as community servants.”
Castro’s attorney could not be reached for comment on Friday morning.
Castro seeks compensatory and punitive damages on claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, excessive force, due process violations, battery, and negligent hiring and supervision of the named officers.
He is represented by David Dow and Jennifer Levine of the Dow Law Office in Scottsdale, Arizona.