The cell phone video has become a powerful tool for documenting abusive tactics by police across the country. But one encounter involving two Miami cops could redefine the genre.
This one, quickly racking up views in South Florida, plays out like a slapstick comedy skit called Friendly Taser Fire. As two officers grapple with a suspect on a Little Havana Street, one cop nails the other with a point-blank Taser shot to the forearm and the literally shocked officer goes down like a fallen tree — but only briefly.
The narration from the woman doing the filming adds just the right touch of surprise. Of course, there was certainly nothing funny about the situation for the two officers, who at the time were grappling with an uncooperative man suspected of purchasing crack cocaine. The police, in an arrest form, said they had to strike with the Taser, twice, just to subdue him. The report identifies the two officers only by their last names and first initials — E. Rodriguez and G. Casiano, who was struck in the arm by the Taser prong.
The cellphone video first showed up on the #onlyindade Instagram page, a popular Internet site that leans toward the more absurd incidents that are captured on cellphone video throughout Miami-Dade. It wasn’t clear where the video originated from.
Police said the encounter happened in Little Havana back on Jan. 4. That’s when the officers said they spotted 26-year-old Rigoberto Castillo purchasing crack cocaine near the corner of Southwest 10th Avenue and Fourth Street. As police rolled toward Castillo in their patrol car, the officers said they saw him drop a glass pipe on the ground.
The brief video picks up the scene at that point. It shows the two officers trying to gain control of Castillo, dressed in a blue shirt and jeans. He struggles as they try to handcuff him. Then one officer to pulls out his Taser and fires, accidentally striking his partner.
The stunned officer regains his footing, talks into his radio, then kneels down at least partially on Castillo’s head before punching him twice.
According to Castillo’s arrest report the officers had to deploy their Tasers twice on Castillo to get him under control. They say they struck him in the lower back and the abdomen. As they tried to place him in the patrol car, he kept struggling, the police said and they were eventually forced to place him in a hobble, a strap used to tie someone’s legs together.
Castillo was charged with possession of cocaine, resisting arrest with violence and possession of drug paraphernalia.