Police brutality is a state disease
Did anything in that headline actually surprise you? We know it didn’t, but it should — no matter how common police brutality has always been, we refuse to become desensitized to it. David Castellani’s dreadful experience isn’t any different.
We wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard that name before. The trend of the media underreporting police brutality is obvious. We can imagine the same trend applies when it comes to the known corruption of Atlantic City — where six armed police and a K-9 officer tackled Castellani, a 20-year-old Temple University student.
Surveillance footage of the attack is available online, and it is beyond clear that excessive force was used on the prostrate Castellani, who was already lying on his stomach. At the time, the K-9 officer unleashed the dog on him and it gnawed on his head and neck, which could have killed him. This is after the first five cops beat the crap out of him with fists, feet and batons — a type of force that should only be used when a weapon is present. Castellani had emptied his pockets in front of the cops moments before the attack.
What prompted it? Castellani directed offensive comments and gestures at the police from across the street after they approached and released him.
While disrespecting a cop seems like automatic grounds for disorderly conduct, there’s absolutely no reason why so many needed to bumrush one 20-year-old and use so many different forms of violence against him. Fists and batons aside, they let the dog rush at his neck and could have very easily killed him.
Here’s a shocker for you: The cop with the K-9 already had 15 complaints of excessive violence filed against him prior to this incident and five pending lawsuits.
What we’re seeing here is a recurring pattern of corruption and oversight in police departments. In our previous editorial “Circuit judgment a bad call for NJ,” we noted Atlantic City’s known corruption and inefficiency. Here it rears its ugly head, at the expense of a college student who now has to live with the scars of 200 stitches at the hands of a corrupt police force.
Strong and respectable leadership is missing. The police chief condoned the actions of the officers and, while an “internal investigation” is taking place — which we presume to be like the internal investigations that absolved that police officer of his 15 excessive force complaints — no disciplinary action has been taken against any of the cops involved, which we feel is absolutely unacceptable.
But this isn’t a problem just limited to A.C. Rutgers University experienced a similar incident in 2011, when two University students filed a lawsuit against New Brunswick police for using excessive force after officers wrongly broke into their apartment and attacked them while they were asleep in their beds.
When cops are getting hired based on connections rather than merit, their superiors’ priority is to cover up their tracks rather than carry out thorough backgrounds checks and take necessary action against officers with repetitive offenses. We are only fostering a breeding ground for this type of sanctioned violence by law enforcement officials on the civilian population.
Castellani and his stunned parents are justified in their decision to sue the city and the police department for their clear disregard and negligence.
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