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Phoenix man forced to eat marijuana by police settles suit for $100K

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PHOENIX — A Phoenix man who said he was forced by police to eat marijuana or go to jail has settled a lawsuit against the city for $100,000.

The Phoenix City Council approved the settlement Wednesday.

Edgar Castro was pulled over for speeding in September 2016 and police officers reported finding a small amount of marijuana in his car.

The three police officers involved — Richard Pina, Jason McFadden and Michael Carnicle, all of them in their first year on the force — resigned weeks later.

When Castro lodged a formal complaint, he told an officer on the phone, “They gave me two choices — eat the weed or go to jail.”

Another officer, Jeff Farrior, was demoted from lieutenant for improperly investigating the case.

Castro, then 19, was pulled over for speeding in a BMW near 45th Avenue and McDowell Road. McFadden and Carnicle saw a package from a medical marijuana dispensary in the car. Inside was a gram of marijuana.

According to the complaint, a fourth officer, not named in the suit, said McFadden said, “Oh, we should make him eat it …”

Castro hesitated, asked if he really had to eat the pot and Pina said, “Yeah, you need to eat it.”

McFadden told Castro if he wanted to go home instead of jail he had to eat the marijuana.

The complaint said Castro wanted to use his phone to record the incident but was threatened with shooting if he reached for his phone.

Castro ate the marijuana and was not arrested. His car was towed away and he walked home, where he later became sick, he said.

Lawyers for the 20-year-old Castro filed a notice of claim in the case in February against the city and the three officers. That precursor to a lawsuit sought $3.5 million.

Castro’s suit filed in October sought undisclosed punitive and compensatory damages for an alleged civil-right violation and emotional distress.

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