Opa-Locka

Family Plans to File Suit After Opa-locka Officers Seen Dragging Teen Down Steps

The family of Jasef Castro-Reyes initially called 911 for help

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The city of Opa-locka says they're planning to investigate cellphone video of police officers dragging and restraining a 19-year-old who family members say has a mental illness.

Jasef Castro-Reyes' family called 911 for help on Sept. 25.

"This is a tragic case of a mentally ill teenager calling for help and getting treated very brutally," said Michael Pizzi, the family's defense attorney.

The cellphone video, which was shot by a family member, shows Opa-locka police officers dragging the teen down the stairs, feet first, when he was handcuffed with his head hitting the stairs.

"And then when he was handcuffed and subdued on the ground, they continued to hit him and stun gun him," Pizzi said.

In the video, an officer is heard telling the family that "it's just electricity," that everyone has "been through it" and "it only hurts for a second."

The city of Opa-Locka said they're investigating.

"The city is conducting an internal investigation initiated by the city as this incident involved the application of force that injured multiple officers while trying to control a non-compliant individual under the influence of a narcotic," the city said in a statement.

But Pizzi doesn't believe any officers were injured.

"The video I see that you have does not show any injured officers," Pizzi said. "It shows the officers standing around, laughing and cavorting." 

Officers did not arrest Reyes but instead took him to the hospital. He was later released. Photos provided by Pizzi apparently show the stun gun marks left by officers.

"Who was not on the scene was any mental health professionals or any social workers, so this really is a national problem," Pizzi said.

Reyes is studying to get his GED and works part time as a roofer. For now the family is working on getting Reyes the help they say he needs. They may initiate a civil lawsuit against the City of Opa-locka and the police department in the next couple of days.

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