David Connor Castellani - 20 year old brutally beaten on video bY Atlantic City police officers
Castellani told CNN that during the incident “I was just basically rolling up in a ball — I wasn’t resisting, I told them that, and they continued to beat me. I was holding on for life when the dog bit me.”
On June 15, 2013, David Connor Castellani Jr. visited the Tropicana Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City for the night. After being over-served at several drinking establishments at the Tropicana, Castellani was told to leave because he was under the legal drinking age. After he left, video surveillance tape caught his interactions with police officers Lorady, Law, Harper, Sendrick, Rogers, and Wheaten.
Castellani approached Officers Lorady, Law, Sendrick, and Rogers, to ask for assistance in locating some friends. Instead of assisting him, the officers questioned Castellani and conducted a pat down. He is seen on the videotape cooperating with the officer’s requests. The officers mocked and ridiculed him and did nothing to assist him. Instead, they ordered him to the other side of Pacific Ave.
Castellani complied and crossed the street, but began verbally responding to the officer’s continual taunts. In response, Officers Lorady, Law, Sendrick and Rogers ran at Castellani, tackled him to the ground, and began beating him. The officers punched, kicked, kneed and clubbed the twenty year old. Officer Harper, who arrived belatedly, kneed Castellani before successfully placing one of his hands in handcuffs.
Castellani was face down, and completely prone to the ground yelling, “I am not resisting.” Moments later, Officer Sterling Wheaten pulled up to the scene with a K-9 attack dog. He instantly released the canine on the subdued Castellani who was already surrounded by five other police officers. Wheaten ordered the dog to attack Castellani.
The canine mauled the back of Castellani’s neck and head. Instead of removing the canine, some of the officers continued to punch and kick Castellani while others laughed and smiled at the incident happening before them.
Eventually the officers removed the dog and Castellani was taken to the hospital where he was shackled to a bed. He received more than 200 stitches, suffered a crushed spinal nerve, numbness on the right side of the skull and several bruises and abrasions.
Jennifer Bonjean, called the videotaped episode “one of the most egregious examples of excessive force and police brutality” that she has ever seen. “I am dismayed that we still have this problem where police officers are unwilling to speak truthfully and honestly when tragedies like this happen … Every objective person who looks at this video, says ‘Oh my gosh, this is unbelievable.’ And (the police chief) will sit there and say, ‘I stand by my officers.’” Bonjean said. “To me, I’m not surprised, it happens all the time, but it’s still shocking and it’s truly disappointing.”
During depositions, all six police officers asserted their fifth amendment right and refused to answer any questions under oath about the incident out of fear from criminal prosecution.
Castellani's lawsuit settled for $3 million in August 2017, two months and four years after his brutal assault.
- Daily Mail: Law student who needed 200 stitches after he was savaged by a K9 during 2013 arrest receives $3m payout from New Jersey police (September 2017)
- NJ Law Journal: Atlantic City Police Excessive-Force Case Settles for $3M (September 2017)
- Press of Atlantic City: Castellani excessive force lawsuit settles for $3 million (September 2017)
- NJ.com: $3M settlement in police excessive force suit (September 2017)
- Press of Atlantic City: NJ Supreme Court sides with Castellani, ends three year case. (July 2016)