Pastor testifies in brutality suit trial – Melville

Posted by

Pastor testifies in brutality suit trial by Karen White / Senior Times Writer 8-25-2001 SANTA MARIA — A Santa Marian’s claim that he only wants legal revenge against a Santa Maria police officer wasrefuted by a local youth pastor Friday. Mark Castro, 35, has charged the Santa Maria Police Department and Officer Gary Steigler and Cpl. Norman Com with violation of civil rights for excessive force, unlawful search and seizure, assault and battery, false arrest and imprisonment and intentional and willful confrontation and intimidation on the basis of race. The trial of Castro versus police began Tuesday. The civil trial has followed a July 3, 1999 incident on South Miller Street where Castro’s vehicle was stopped for loud music and the paraplegic was forcibly removed from his vehicle. He had no driver’s license, registration, insurance or hand controls, so police seized his car. Robert Cavanaugh Sturley, a youth pastor in a wheelchair, appeared Friday morning to tell the jury of five women and seven men about a conversation he heard while sharing a Marian Medical Center hospital room with Castro two days later. An older man who has lost a leg, Sturley said he listened while Castro and another man talked “of getting back at the policeman who arrested him.” Sturley, called to testify by subpoena, said the men described the officer as “anti-Mexican” and said they were going to “use a car to get him.” Come also is linked to a high-profile officer-involved shooting death of a local Latino more than three years ago. Sturley contacted police the day after this July 5, 1999 incident. “I was quite concerned,” Sturley said. The jury was not allowed access to information that Come’s police assignment was shifted from patrol to the detective department soon after this warning and other alleged death threats. And his shifts have been scheduled during daylight hours. Castro said he did not remember the conversation and said he only wanted to get back through the legal process. Testimony ended at noon Friday and will resume with closing arguments and jury instructions Monday, before Santa Maria Superior Judge Rodney Melville. Castro had been traveling without his wheelchair. Knives were found under his driver’s seat and he was cited for driving without a license, registration and insurance and for loud music. The plaintiff filed an original police report about an hour after the 3 p.m. incident. Castro testified he only wanted legal revenge to get Cpl. Norman Come and Officer Gary Steigler “fired” so they would not treat others as they had treated him. According to Castro, the incident caused him both pain and humiliation. He went to Marian for treatment of abrasions from being taken out of the vehicle the evening of the incident, then returned 24 hours later with infected feet. The officers involved testified that Castro appeared angry and belligerent, but did not tell them he was injured in any way. Castro testified he had not been hit, kicked, punch or struck by the officers during the incident. His original report to police, and a lawsuit filed Feb. 3, 2000, alleged Castro had been kicked repeatedly by the officers. Both Steigler and Come testified during the civil trial, stressing they had no other way to get Castro out of the vehicle except to lift the large man. Because he did not have his wheelchair, money for a taxi or immediate transportation, Castro was left at the scene when his vehicle was seized and towed away, they said. Steigler did use his personal cell phone to make contact with Castro’s family. His mother later picked him up. :nav Source:

Leave a Reply