CAMDEN — An Atlantic City police officer was arrested Thursday following a federal grand jury indictment in a violent 2013 arrest in which he allegedly unleashed his K-9 on a Linwood man and justified the excessive force by writing up false reports.
David Connor Castellani, 25, said he required hundreds of stitches to repair bites by Officer Sterling Wheaten’s police dog, Hagan, and settled an excessive-force lawsuit against Atlantic City for $3 million in September of last year.
Atlantic City police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Fair declined to comment on the allegations.
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In his report, Wheaten, now a detective in the Criminal Investigations Section, wrote that Castellani “violently assaulted uniformed law enforcement officer[s] with hands and fists” and that he “was going to get up and retrieve his weapon to injure us and flee the area endangering the public,” according to the indictment.
The indictment is “further vindication of the actions of Connor Castellani on that horrific night in the summer of 2013,” said Castellani’s lawyer, Steve Scheffler.
“Connor is a very humble young man that takes no joy in the misfortune of Officer Wheaten,” Scheffler said in a statement. “Notwithstanding, if this matter was properly handled by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at the time of the event five years ago, the actions of the U.S. Attorney’s Office probably would not be necessary.”
A videotape taken by security cameras at Tropicana Atlantic City showed Castellani arguing with officers about 3 a.m. June 15, 2013. Castellani walked away from the officers and across the street, where he continued to yell at them. Castellani then walked back toward the officers yelling and pointing, and then was taken down by Officer Darrin Lorady, with other officers quickly running toward the scene.
A Linwood man seriously injured in an arrest outside the Tropicana Atlantic City in 2013, re…
Wheaten then pulled up and released his police dog.
After the incident, a grand jury cleared the officers of wrongdoing and charged Castellani, who required more than 200 stitches from the police dog’s bites, with aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. He also was indicted on a lesser charge of inflicting harm on a law-enforcement animal.
After pleading not guilty, Castellani completed pretrial intervention,which allows defendants without a criminal record to avoid prosecution, and all charges against him were dismissed.