20 Year Old Temple University Student Sues Atlantic City Police
WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES
A Temple University student has filed a lawsuit that claims he was wrongfully arrested and beaten by officers of the Atlantic City Police Department.
On June 15, 2013, 20 year old David Connor Castellani of Linwood, was told to leave the Tropicana Atlantic City casino for being under aged. David, who admitted that he was drunk, left the casino. Being separated from his friends, he called from his cell phone so they could leave Atlantic City and go home. About 4 police officers standing outside said something to David, who said he then asked them for directions to where his friends said they would pick him up.
David crossed the street, but rather than ignore the cops, he exchanged words with them. David was then rushed by at least 5 cops, taken to the ground, and beaten with fists, kicked and hit with night sticks. It didn’t stop with that. A canine unit pulled up. The officer exited the police SUV with a German Shepherd dog that immediately began biting David on the head and back of his neck. Surveillance video shows that David was on the ground at the time, still constrained by the cops. David has said that he was handcuffed as the dog bit him, and each time the dog dragged him off the curb, the cops pulled him back and continued beating him.
The incident was captured on surveillance video.
“I look at that video and I know I am lucky that my son is alive. I don’t want any other parent to have to go through this; I don’t want any other kid to go through this,” Terri Castellani said.
Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford called the video “disturbing. ”
David spent four days in the hospital from the injuries sustained in the beating. He required more than 200 stitches, has nerve damage, a loss of feeling and permanent shoulder damage as a result of the incident.
Adding insult to injury, the cops charged David with aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault on a police dog.
David Castellani and his parents filed a lawsuit in federal court against the city and the police department. He is seeking to have charges against him dropped, to receive undisclosed damages, and to have the six officers removed from the police force.
Between 2008 and 2011, the canine officer, Sterling Wheaton, who is seen in the video, had 21 complaints filed against him by civilians alleging misconduct; 15 related to excessive force or assault. Officer Wheaton has been exonerated or a finding of allegations not sustained was entered in every complaint. There are currently five pending civil suits against him involving his use of force.
David’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, says that Atlantic City police department’s internal affairs is a “sham.” In September, Mayor Langford asked both the State Attorney General’s Office as well as the United States Department of Justice to help investigate the incident.
The following video was made possible by “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” and begins at about the time David leaves the casino and captures about 8 minutes of the incident, unedited.