'You're Not Looking For Me': Brothers Speak After Sweetwater Cop's Punch Caught on Camera - NBC 6 South Florida

'You're Not Looking For Me': Brothers Speak After Sweetwater Cop's Punch Caught on Camera

Sweetwater police swarmed a Tamiami home looking for James Castro, who they say hit and injured an officer with a car

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Man Speaks After Video Shows Cop Punching Him

    Christian Castro speaks to NBC 6 after home cameras captured a Sweetwater cop punching him when cops swarmed a Tamiami home in search for his brother, James Castro. NBC 6 anchor Johnny Archer reports.

    (Published Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019)

    The Sweetwater police chief is defending the actions of an officer who was caught on home cameras punching a man during the tense moments police raided a home to arrest his brother.

    Sweetwater police were searching for 40-year-old James Castro, who they say hit and injured an officer with a car while making a traffic stop earlier that morning.

    Surveillance video obtained by NBC 6 captured Wednesday’s incident showing officers swarming the family’s home in the 12900 block of SW 20th Terrace.

    Officers are seen trying to detain two men – neither of them were James Castro, but his brothers, Gary and Christian Castro. 

    Sweetwater Officer's Use of Force Caught on Camera

    [MI] Sweetwater Officer's Use of Force Caught on Camera

    NBC 6 anchor Johnny Archer spoke to a law enforcement expert about the video that shows a Sweetwater officer punching a man as police swarmed a Tamiami home looking for James Castro, who was wanted for hitting an officer with a vehicle.

    (Published Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019)

    "The cops come, and the first thing they say is, 'Let me see some hands,'" Gary Castro told NBC 6.

    An officer is later seen punching one of the men and then putting him in a chokehold.

    "My lip is messed up. My eye is messed up. My lungs hurt. My back hurts. They had someone’s knee on my calf," Christian Castro said.

    “They started to beat up my son so badly. Very badly,” their mother, Ana Schaublan, told NBC 6. “And I was just trying to tell them, ‘please do not hurt my son.’”

    James Castro was nowhere to be found in the Tamiami home – his two brothers, who police say had nothing to do with the initial traffic stop, were arrested instead. Both of them were charged with resisting arrest, and one of them faces an additional charge of battery on an officer.

    "Why are you hitting on me? You're not looking for me. You're looking for James Castro," Gary Castro recalled telling officers. "You already know that James Castro was not here. And why would you arrest us?"

    Sweetwater Cop Seen Punching Man in Video

    [MI] Sweetwater Cop Seen Punching Man in Video

    A portion of the home surveillance video shows a Sweetwater officer punching a man during a search for his brother, who was wanted with hitting a cop with a vehicle.

    (Published Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019)

    The family is now claiming police used excessive force, but Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz told NBC 6 his officers acted in accordance with the law.

    "Obviously if somebody made an error or mistake they will be held accountable," Diaz said. "But at this point, I have no reason to believe that."

    Police also say the mother gave consent for officers to enter the home when she asked why they were there, but Schaublan told NBC 6 that was not true and officers did not have a warrant to search their home.

    She also claims she sustained bruises when officers pushed her into a wall.

    NBC 6 showed the video to Robert Pusins, a law enforcement expert and a retired Fort Lauderdale police officer for 30 years.

    “This video only tells part of the story,” he said. “While the initial impression of a video may appear alarming, may appear disturbing, it’s still only telling part of the story. And when law enforcement looks at use of force, we have to look at the totality of circumstances. Having understand everything that took place. Not just what was captured in the lens of the video.”

    Police say James Castro is still on the run as of Wednesday night.

    "The gentleman in question is still at large," Diaz said. "He is a registered sex offender, from what I understand. And he did assault a police officer with a vehicle."

    He can face a number of charges, including aggravated battery on an officer.

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