Man who said Phoenix police forced him to eat pot wants answers from City Hall

Rev. Jarrett Maupin holds a news conference with Edgar Castro, a 19-year-old who was forced to eat marijuana by Phoenix Police officers. The officers have resigned. Photo by Kate Peifer

PHOENIX – A Phoenix man who accused Phoenix police officers of forcing him to eat marijuana said Thursday he was physically sick and has had to seek counseling for post-traumatic stress.

“I went home and threw up the next morning,” Edgar Castro, 19, said, after Phoenix officers two weeks ago allegedly told him to swallow a gram of pot to avoid being jailed after a traffic stop.

The Rev. Jarrett Maupin, a Phoenix activist, called a news conference outside Phoenix City Hall. He said Castro has suffered emotional and physical distress.

“We’re asking for the city of Phoenix to provide us with answers,” Maupin said. Among those answers: improving diversity training in the police department and vetting officers more thoroughly before hiring them.

Maupin and Castro said they will give the City Council a “few days” to respond before deciding whether to file a claim against the city.

Maupin said Castro has had to seek counseling because of post-traumatic stress, but neither man shared details about other physical effects of ingesting the marijuana.

Three officers resigned after the Sept. 13 incident and a lieutenant who was told of the allegations but failed to launch an investigation was demoted to sergeant, according to Phoenix police. Phoenix Police Chief Joe Yahner said the three officers, who were on probationary status, would have been fired if they had not resigned.

Yahner said last week he was “appalled” to hear Castro’s accusations.

“The conduct alleged by our resident is contrary to everything we stand for as community servant,” Yahner said in a Sept. 22 statement.

Castro gave this account of what happened at the Thursday news conference:

About 3 a.m. on Sept. 13, Phoenix police officers pulled him over in a Maryvale neighborhood, saying he was speeding. Castro said the police “visually” believed he was speeding and did not use a radar gun.

The police allegedly searched Castro’s vehicle without a warrant and found a gram of marijuana and a gun. Castro said the officers gave him a choice — eat the marijuana or go to jail.

Castro said he felt pressured and paranoid, so he ate it.

The police also issued tickets to Castro accusing him of not having proof of registration, a driver’s license, broken glass and suspended plates. Castro said the tickets were dropped.

Maupin and Castro declined to answer if Castro was legally allowed to be in possession of the marijuana, and said the actual location of the marijuana would be revealed in the police report.

“We’re talking about them making him eat marijuana on the roadside,” Maupin said. “He (Castro) is living proof of the failures of the current training tactics of the Phoenix Police Department.”