MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami Lakes attorney says he plans to sue the city of Opa-locka, its police department, and officers for excessive battery and a violation of civil rights after a violent incident on September 21st in which a man was taken in to custody.
It took police 9 minutes to subdue the suspect, 19-year-old Jafet Castro when they were called to the family’s York Street apartment after family members told police Castro had consumed drugs and was being violent towards them.
In the dramatic body cam video, you can hear Castro grunting while he repeatedly struggles with officers who are trying to restrain him. Police say they are unable to subdue him after he exhibits a great deal of strength and appears to be under the influence of dangerous drugs like PCP or Flakka.
Police repeatedly taser Castro but that is ineffective. On the body cam video, you can the repeated sounds of a taser being used with Castro continuing to scream as he struggles.
City Manager John Pate said there was a mental health emergency “and it was our duty to control the situation and ensure he received the mental health services that he needed.”
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On the body cam video, you could hear one officer say “He is overpowering us.”
Police were able to handcuff Castro. They are seen dragging him from the apartment. He is taken to the hospital and then on to a mental health facility for a few days of evaluation. So far no charges have been filed against him. Police say a number of officers were injured.
Police also said doctors at the hospital said Castro was under the influence of dangerous drugs.
On Thursday, Pizzi said he had sent a letter to the Mayor, Vice Mayor and City Commissioners announcing that he planned to sue for $5 million.
Pizzi told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “The police were brutal and used excessive force on the young man. What I saw on the video was absolutely sickening.”
“In the United States of America for a mentally ill, 19-year-old who was completely subdued and incapable of hurting anyone, the police responded by punching him in the face, beat him with batons and stunned gunned him repeatedly like he was a piece of cattle and then dragging him down a flights of stairs by his feet. What I saw in the video was completely sickening. Every U.S. citizen should be sickened by it.”
Pizzi added, “Then they made police file false reports saying that several police were injured. How could that have possibly happened?”
The City Manager said, “Tactics could have been better but violation of policies and procedures or excessive force, based on Mr. Castro’s actions, it doesn’t rise to that. It rises to training. It rises to re-education. It rises to public education.”