A man who was given an ultimatum by three cops of choosing to eat marijuana or go to jail has settled his civil case with the city and will receive $100,000 in damages.

Edgar Castro was pulled over on what may have been a bogus traffic stop in September 2016. They say they stopped Castro for speeding, although it was apparently not the result of a radar reading. In any event, they told Castro to get out of his car and proceeded, without a warrant, to search his vehicle. They found what has been described as a “small amount” of marijuana. Rather than dealing with the situation under police guidelines and using common sense, the officers gave Castro a choice: either eat the marijuana or go to jail. Castro opted not to be jailed, and ate the pot. He later became sick.

Shortly after the incident, Castro reported the incident to a police supervisor. As a result, three officers resigned, and a fourth (who learned of the incident but failed to act) was demoted. A criminal investigation was begun involving two of the officers who were on the scene.

In February of this year, Castro filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the officers and the City of Phoenix. It didn’t take the City Council very long to vote to cough up $100,000 to settle the case. That vote took place this week.

Unfortunately, the case we’ve described is not the only case of what can be described as police acting like thugs – or at least illegally – in Arizona. We reported on the issue more than three years ago in our blog. And the Castro case is by no means the largest payout in recent Maricopa County history. In 2015, for example, Maricopa County paid over half a million dollars to the family of a man who died in jail after an “altercation” with jail officers and Phoenix cops. The allegations included a claim that the man was denied medical treatment after being repeatedly hit and then shot with a stun gun. Prior to 2015, the county had already paid out at least $30 million to settle liability claims against Maricopa County Sheriff’s officers.

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