Phoenix Man Forced to Eat Pot Reaches $100,000 Settlement

Update, 4 p.m.: The Phoenix City Council has approved a $100,000 settlement with Edgar Castro. Original story continues below:

A man who was says he was forced to eat pot by Phoenix police officers has reached a deal with the city.

If the City Council votes to approve the payout tonight, Edgar Castro will be receiving a $100,000 settlement. He'd initially filed a claim for $3.5 million.

"Money wasn’t the issue here, I just wanted to see some justice," he told Phoenix New Times. "I want to make this an example so that no other officers will try this against nobody."

Castro says that he's been working as a barber, and plans to use the money from the settlement to open up his own barbershop.

"I'm going to get my life started, open my business, spend it on myself and my family, and see where it goes from there," he said.

In the early hours of the morning on September 13, 2016, Castro was driving his BMW through Maryvale when he was pulled over by Phoenix police officers. They found a gun and roughly a gram of marijuana inside his car.

According to the complaint filed in Maricopa County Court, Officer Jason McFadden asked Castro, "Do you want to go home tonight?"

"Yeah," Castro replied.

At that point, the lawsuit says, McFadden told him to eat the marijuana or else he would be going to jail.

click to enlarge Edgar Castro - COURTESY OF EDGAR CASTRO
Edgar Castro
Courtesy of Edgar Castro
Castro, who was 19 at the time, also claims in the lawsuit that he tried to record the incident, but McFadden told him that he would get shot if he reached for his phone.

Castro later filed a complaint with the Phoenix Police Department. Shortly afterward, McFadden and the two other officers who had been present resigned. (Joe Yahner, who was the chief of police at the time, said that they would have been fired otherwise.)

An additional officer who failed to take immediate action after Castro filed his complaint was demoted.

Jarrett Maupin, the controversial civil rights activist, held a press conference last year where he argued that Castro's experience demonstrated the need for police reform.

He told New Times that he'd sat in on mediation talks between Castro and the city, which Castro confirmed.

The settlement, Maupin said, "reflects what’s in the best interests of Mr. Castro with respect to the emotional ordeal that he went through. As far as reforming the department, I can’t really say. I think there’s still more work that need to be done."

He added, "If the department hasn’t learned or been changed because of it, then I think it's just more taxpayer money gone down the drain, because the department hasn’t had the kind of serious reforms that it needs."

Phoenix Police Department spokesperson Jonathan Howard said that questions about the settlement would need to be directed to the City Council.

The department has previously condemned the officers' actions: Back in 2016, then-police chief Yahner said that their behavior was "appalling" and "contrary to everything we stand for as community servants."

But a report on Channel 3 (KPHO) later raised questions about whether the Phoenix Police Department had overlooked McFadden's disciplinary history in their rush to recruit more officers. McFadden had previously worked as a police officer in Chicago, where he'd been the subject of a number of complaints, the station found.

Maupin shared a copy of a 2015 lawsuit with New Times. It states that McFadden, while employed by the Chicago Police Department, had told a suspect to "get [his] black ass naked" or else he would Taser him "until [he] pissed and shit himself."

Court records show that McFadden and the other officers involved in the incident denied the allegations. The case was settled out of court, and New Times was unable to find current contact information for McFadden. It's unclear if he's still living in Arizona. 

For his part, Castro says that he's no longer angry about what happened.

"It was a mistake that they made, and I hope it never happens again to nobody," he said.