David Connor Castellani, 20, was arrested, beaten by police, and attacked by a K-9 unit after a verbal altercation outside of an Atlantic City casino. Castellani was unarmed.
The incident originally took place in June, but video evidence has recently been released to the public.
The video, which can be viewed via the left hand corner of this article, is seven minutes long and shows Castellani exchanging words with police officers after he was ejected from a casino for being underage. There is no audio available. The video shows Castellani walking, alone, down the sidewalk away from officers. Intermittently he stops, turns around, and yells to officers while making hand gestures. The gestures did not appear to be vulgar, not that vulgarity would be justification for the beating of an innocent man.
Around three minutes into the video Castellani stops, turns around, and then advances quickly in the opposite direction he had been walking. He then stops, appears confused, and attempts to turn and walk in the other direction. This is because a mob of police officers was now running toward him. Apparently the officers took Castellani’s advances as aggressive, and five officers sieged the 20-year-old forcing him the the ground immediately.
Officers held Castellani and took turns striking the man with batons. At other times during the altercation, up to three officers delivered lunging knee blows to the back, head, and stomach of Castellani. He did not appear to be resisting, but is rather completely incapacitated and was absorbing violent blows. When Castellani’s legs were extended out, an officer beat the back of his legs with a baton.
After a 90-second assault by 5 officers, a K-9 unit officer arrived on the scene. While none of the other officer’s identities have been released the local reporting of nbcphiladelphia.com revealed the K9 officer’s name to be Sterling Wheaton. Officer Wheaton ran from his vehicle with his dog, and without taking a moment to assess the situation allowed the dog to attack Castellani while he was on the ground, not moving, and surrounded by five officers with batons and guns. After pulling the attack dog away from the first unjustified attack, a second attempt to attack was allowed this time with the dog biting Castellani’s neck and the back of his head. As a note Officer Wheaton has had 15 reports of abuse filed against him in two years. All investigations were performed in-house and Wheaton was never charged or reprimanded and was absolved of all wrong doing in each case.
David Connor Castellani was formally charged with resisting arrest, aggravated assault, and disorderly conduct. Castellani’s charges are still pending as he and his family seek civil remedies for the abuse suffered at the hands of police. They are seeking dismissal of all charges.
In total David Castellani required 200 stitches to close the wounds caused by police, and their dog. Doctors say he has permanent nerve damage.
Atlantic City Police Chief Ernest Jubillie said that he reviewed the video and, “saw no reason to suspend or remove officers from their regular duties.”
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