A 22-year-old Linwood man has been charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and inflicting harm on a law enforcement animal in the aftermath of a controversial arrest at the hands of the Atlantic City police in 2013.
At around 3:00 AM on the morning of June 15, 2013, David Connor Castellani got into an argument with several
Atlantic City police officers outside of the Tropicana Casino and Resort. After walking away from the officers to make a phone call to some friends, Castellani walked back toward them and continued yelling. At this point, five officers tackled him, pummeling on the head and chest. Later, a K-9 officer arrives and lets loose his dog.
A video of the incident, which sparked national outrage, is embedded above.
Castellani required more than 200 stitches, spent two days in the hospital and suffered nerve damage as a result of the incident.
In January, a grand jury cleared the officers of wrongdoing, and indicted Castellani for the aforementioned crimes.
“Obviously, based upon the video, I can’t agree that the grand jury got it right, but I guess that’s why we get to examine the process,” said Steven Scheffler, Castellani’s defense lawyer.
“It’s the Atlantic City Police Department that is called into question when you have an incident like this,” said Police Benevolent Association President Paul Barbere, speaking in support of the grand jury’s decision. “Unfortunately, people rush to judgement on very few facts, limited facts.”
The grand jury’s decision came in January, almost two years after the initial arrest. Castellani pleaded not guilty on Monday. Castellani and his family have also had a pending civil case filed against the police officers involved.
The incident is one in a series of allegations of abuse against Atlantic City Police, most of which never see any punitive action against police. According to a report by the Press of Atlantic City, the department had 473 excessive force complaints, only one of which saw an officer disciplined.
Castellani and his attorney, Steve Scheffler, have applied for a pretrial intervention, which could allow him to avoid prosecution. Scheffler also stated that he is in communication about settling the case with First Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton, but is willing to fight in court.
If convicted, Castellani could face 3-5 years in prison for each of the aggravated assault and resisting arrest charges; inflicting harm on a law enforcement animal is a fourth-degree offense and could result in up to 18 months in prison.
If you find yourself arrested by the Atlantic City police for any reason, be sure to call Chance BailBonds to get fast bail bonds services 24 hours a day, get back home, and begin planning your defense.