Man who tore down American flags arrested

January 18, 2011

Casey Casteel

Paso Robles Police arrested a man who took down flags displayed in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. holiday for battery of a police officer and resisting arrest.

On Monday at about noon, numerous 911 callers told emergency personnel a man was walking down the 1200 block of Spring Street, taking down flags, walking into the roadway and acting bizarre.

Police said Casey Casteel, 25, refused to comply to officers instructions and became combative. It ultimately took seven officers to take Casteel into custody.

Casteel and two officers received minor injuries during the altercation. Personal from the Paso Robles Department of Emergency Services treated the officers at the scene.

Casteel was transported to a local hospital before being booked in San Luis Obispo County Jail for one count of battery of a police officer and one count of resisting arrest.

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As a native San Luis Obispian I know what you are talking about. Trust me, all are communities have been impacted with the growth of the county, increased crimes, budget shortfalls, unemployment etc. I have family in Paso as well as South County and of course as a native SLO have seen the decline in our neighborhoods because of students, increase crimes and of course the impacts this has had on all our communities. I still feel that while our goverment (federak, state, county an cities waste our money don’t have the people’s interest at heart unless you have money or power I do recognize when a dangerous incident is done and done with harm to its citizens we should not be critial but supportive. Just saying!!!

So what else I would like to know about this incident in Paso is what was the man upset about? Why was he removing the flags? Is he someone who thinks the flag is somehow “bad” or upset at what the flag represents? Or is he upset that the flags were out for MLK day and he is some sort of racist? What is the “meat” of the story behind his actions? Regardless of his motivations, he was wrong to resist the police when they confronted him and should have submitted to being handcuffed; if however he was beaten up by the police officers trying to subdue him, that would be wrong on their part. I do hope that we get a public explanation of everything that transpired during the arrest of this apparently angry young man, and I hope he gets some help, regardless of why he did what he did.

Can you spell damage control? Several witnesses observed Paso PD beating the man on the ground while handcuffed. Afterward they went to the police station to file a complaint but were rebuffed and one was even threatened with retaliation if she persisted.

The young man is obviously loony-tunes but did not deserve this.

The cop that inflicted the most damage was off-duty and rolled-up in his personal pick-up. He started kicking prisoner while he was handcuffed, on the ground. When witnesses approached to complain he asked them if they wanted to be arrested for interfering with a police officer. The officers involved refused to provide their names or badge numbers.

This is not the first time and it appears to be the Paso Robles “Heros” favorite pastime; beating prisoners while handcuffed just like the 17-year old handcuffed kid in their booking room.

Of course the chief was probably not available due to dancing on bar tops while singing karaoke.

And not, neither myself nor the witnesses are “police haters.” The citizens of Paso Robles just want their old hometown police department back! Where are true gentlemen officers like Bud Requa or Keith Tarwater when you need them?

Well said!

Hopefully the witnesses will contact Karen and if they or anyone caught this on a cell phone video they too should come forward and contact CCN. No doubt will be willing to put out the video.

Get your facts straight before you start posting inflammatory comments, NCT. I was a witness to this entire incident, beginning to end, and at NO TIME did ANY of the officers kick or hit Casteel while he was handcuffed. The off duty cop only jumped in when he saw the the ONE lone officer who originally made contact with the suspect was in a fight and would have gotten hurt had the off duty officer not helped. And once the guy was cuffed, the off duty cop backed off and did not touch the suspect again. Casteel got hit because he was resisting arrest and would not give the officers his hands in order to be handcuffed. He had his hands tucked underneath his body and refused to relax, so how were the cops supposed to know if he had a weapon? Yes, they used force to get his hands behind his back, but that’s what happens when you are acting crazy, vandalizing property, and then fighting with the police. Thank goodness the police got to Casteel before a regular citizen tried to confront him about vandalizing the flags because the way he was acting, I’m sure someone would have gotten very hurt (obviously people were scared of him since there were numerous 911 calls before the cops even made contact with him).

You want your old hometown police department back, how about you start showing up to city meetings and hold Jim App accountable for backing such an incompetent police chief, and for letting the police force get to half the size that it should be.

Well now I just don’t know what to think. Is this the truth or is this spin? Anybody got any video? I support our police and in Atascadero, we don’t have these kinds of excessive force problems that we have in other surrounding cities within our county. The problem I have with “your take” on this is that citizens were so concerned about what they saw that they actually went to the PRPD to file complaints and claim that they were rebuffed.

How about hearing from the actual witnesses that NCT appears to be speaking for? Until we all hear from the people who claim to have witnessed the incident and attempted to file complaints then I think that NCT’s post is to be discounted. I want the facts.

I can assure you that it’s not “spin” and I had no agenda in posting that comment. I am not an employee or connected in any such way to the Paso PD. I just know what I saw, and I did not see any excessive force. The only person there at the time that seemed upset was some idiot guy that kept approaching the fight and was told multiple times to back off.

Oh,oh! Lisa is not going to like you making those sort of comments about her, especially when you are on duty and using a city computer! I am sure you and your fellow employees rehearsed your story for the DA. After your threats of retaliation to the witnesses, it is their decision whether to come forward or not.

It’s interesting that since “ at NO TIME did ANY of the officers kick or hit Casteel” and that the PRPD only treated him with Kidd-gloves, his face ended up looking like it went through a meat grinder.

Did he deserve to be arrested? Yes! But not to be used to take out your aggressions.

As far as getting our old hometown police department back, Lisa is not the only problem.

It’s not going to happen because almost every field officer needs to be replaced with those that appreciate our community and its citizens. How about the POA representative when asked about the possibility of the PRPD officers donating their time for the 4th of July fireworks at Barney Schwartz Park. At the meeting attended by representatives of the merchants, non-profit organizations and city officials he loudly proclaimed “F*** the citizens of Paso Robles, if they want fireworks they are going to pay our overtime!”

That speaks volumes about the regard you and your compatriots hold for the citizens of our community.

We used to think that it was a nice gesture on the POA’s part when they initiated the Santa Sleigh during the holidays. What we did not know was you were getting overtime for pulling it around town. You did not DONATE anything! What a bunch of money-grubbers! Even to the point of asking for donations when the city was unable to continue funding it. Other than a little gas for the generator, the rest went into your pockets.

There are many other examples but we’ll save those for another time.

I’m still waiting to hear from actual witnesses to this incident. With all the cell phones out there, someone should have this incident captured on video. Who are the citizens that attempted to file complaints? That’s who we all need to hear from.

You are a complete moron. You are making a whole lot of assumptions when you weren’t even there. All you have are second- or third-hand accounts of what happened. I am NOT a police officer but I WAS a witness. Sorry that you are trying to discredit me because I contradicted what someone else supposedly told you and you obviously have something personal against this department. The guy’s face was messed up mostly because he was scraping it on the sidewalk trying to fight the cops. Witnessing a fight can be very scary to most people, and it was a violent fight, but the cops did nothing wrong in this case. Again, get your facts straight.

(Sorry, Cindy, I didn’t mean to make it sound like I was calling you the moron. I think you know for whom that was intended…)

As a life long resident of Paso I find NCT’s comments not only a stretch of the truth but it cleary shows an agenda. I observed the incident down town and your comments abouts officers kicking a handcuffed man are not true. The man was acting very unusual prior to and during the incident and appeared to be suffering from mental illness. The officers could have easliy done far worse to the man if they had chosen too since he was giving them the excuse but they did not. The idiot who kept trying to interfere with the uniformed officers while trying to control the man had no business. If they had needed or desired his assistance I’m sure they would have asked for it. As for the matter in general its sad to see happen but not suprising. The number of mental health or drug related mental health problems is very high in this county, espically in Paso.

As for persons complaining at the station or the scene. I observed several police supervisors and investigators talking to various witnesses at the scene. Everyone will have their own opinion of the witnessed event. It may be good or bad. Its a fact of life when dealing with persons and dramatic events like this. Not to mention the incident was video taped on the police cars camera’s and is a clear record of what the camera recorded. Regarding Requa and Tarwater. I know both men and they are great people and were great officers. However if you think for a second that either of them would not use a heavy hand if the circumstances warranted it you are dreaming. If you have to punch someone or otherwise lay a hand on someone in response to their actions so be it. Something people tend to forget about police and military issues in particular is that sometimes things are done that are not only necessary, but not pretty to watch. That is life in the times we live in. Our police are not perfect, but neither are our citizens. We are lucky with the officers we have, I’ve seen worse done to people for far less. If the officers had not used the approach they did to overwhelm this guy someone would have been seriously injured instead of getting a few scrapes. Look at what poor tactics and trainging got the LAPD in the King incident. One example of something that could have worked out better if handled differently.

As for the allegation that an alledged witness was threatened by someone at the station if this person tried to report their concern. What a load of crap. Again it appears an agenda rears its head. Lord knows the cops and that chief are not perfect, but threatening witnesses…..give me a break. That new station has video inside too. Maybe you could provide some proof to your outrages falsehoods. Threaten the witness my butt. If you have proof of you outragous claims lets see it.. It amazing how people with certin agenda’s get on this site and say things so outragous to try and inflame the public. If I was the people running this side I would be very careful of what I say or do based soley on this NCT person comments.

As for my agenda. I just thought for once I say something about some of the crazy things people claim happen since I saw the event first hand. Hopefully the arrested guy can get some help. He clearly needs some mental health attention.

I happened to drive by this gentlemen and had to stop so he could pass in front of my car. I saw him throw two flags in front of the inn just seconds earlier. He flipped me off and yelled “what are you f*&#in looking at” and then spat on my car while crossing the street on the way to the library. He was high on something and was looking for a fight. I just let him pass and move on. When the police arrived, I then continued on with my day. This guy was looking for trouble and got what he deserved. It amazes me that someone acting like this scares the hell out of so many that they have to call 911 and then they feel sorry for him because he got a few bruises. Which one of you would walk up and confront this guy if no police were around? I support Paso PD and I am glad they support our community.

There has to be some point where we as a society can reach some kind of balance. I, like many, don’t like to see heavy handiness of cops. The flip side though is someone unstable like this could become the next guy like the one in Arizona a couple weeks ago. Then if not (where he might become worse) you can’t just assume he will because you don’t know and you could infringe on his rights.

My point is, is that I think there are a lot of good points on both sides of the coin (story) but NO really easy answers as how to go forward and have the cops do the job we want, protect citizens rights and protect the public.

Please if someone has the answer to the overall puzzle I would love to hear it, because I think and think about an answer but I get the same answer every time. Life is not perfect folks and we have to do the best we can.

Since when is OK to beat someone up while handcuffed because they might become like someone else? To even mention the guy from Arizona is ridiculous and unlike you. The answer is that these police are supposed to be trained to protect, serve and follow the law. Instead, too many of them take the law into their own hands and we constantly hear of them using excessive force and clearly breaking the law. Then they get away with it and do it again.

You want the answer to the problem. The answer is they need to be held accountable for their actions just like the citizens are held accountable. The answer is that we need a CITIZENS REVIEW BOARD, and we need one with the teeth. Trust me, there are plenty of GOOD men and woman lined up looking for a job with local LE.

First off Cindy please tell me WHERE in my statement that I said it was o.k. to beat up someone handcuffed????

My VERY first statement and you know from reading my past posts here, is that I said it is NOT appropriate of cops to be heavy handed. Pretty plain right there.

My second comment about the man in Arizona is to people posting that people who are a threat should be treated, or arrested or something. My point to that is (just like Arizona) if the person has done NOTHING criminal what are we as a socitety to do till it is to late?? My point on the connection there is they were/are both MENTALLY UNSTABLE! This is not a cut and dry situation. Or the Paso guy could have been on P.C.P., which if he was would take a large amount of manpower to bring him down. I am just waiting to get a final word on what happened. If it was the cops being heavy handed, then by all means heads should roll.

7 officers?

I think you can still sign up to ride along with a police officer in Paso Robles.

I’d suggest you give it a try, maybe on a Friday or Saturday evening……late evening.

You might come away with a more informed opinion.

Why do people always think that a ride along with the police will raise your opinion of the police department. I did a ride along on a Saturday night and guess what, my opinion of their “work” was lowered, not raised. Racing from one side of town to the other to serve as backup for a loud noise complaint, just showed me that we need a new Police Chief, one that knows how to run a police department. We just don’t care if she can sing and dance, and plan events; we want someone who knows how to effectively deploy their officers, not run them around town like dogs. The problem is not our police officers; it’s the lack of professionalism and leadership from the Police Chief.

You folks were not there and have no first-hand knowledge of this incident. Rather than bash law enforcement, perhaps you should consider that suspect and officers may have received even more severe injuries had fewer police been on hand. So quick to jump top conclusions with so little knowledge. Wow.

“First hand” knowledge of this incident is not going to cancel out long-term knowledge about the police in this area. It’s called benefit of the doubt, if you violate trust enough, you lose it. Tough luck. Plus, in this country people are (well used to be) presumed innocent until proven guilty. So it is up to the polcie to provide the information to gain public support and make their case.

Right on!

Somebody on the force needs to turn up the volume on those tazers.

But tazers aren’t as fun as kicking as*. Sounds like an off duty cop showed up and literally did just that. The cops can’t resist that stuff, I’ve seen it and it becomes like a frenzy with them once they start. I’ve even seen them look to start it up.

Why does the crime always have to be an offense against the police? This is vandalism. Arrest him for that. His offense is against the property owners, or city, or whoever. If it takes seven cops to take him down, that’s why they make good money I guess. It looks to me like they beat the hell out of him. Most people resist a little when they’re getting beat.

Police usually have a bias toward those who mess with the flag (don’t ask) on the other hand it seems apparent that some white xtian nationalist knuckle head is really angry about MLK day being a national holiday in paso.

I doubt if this person even knew it was MLK Day.

Well, at least he wasn’t armed.

True! But why did it take seven cops to restrain one unarmed guy? DIdn’t five of ’em have anything else to do?

I’m sorry, but I think that was an inappropriate comment, which you are entitled to make, even if inappropriate. You don’t know his mental of physical strengths, what he was on, etc. I’m all for for exposing truths, waste, fraud, etc. but not being cruel. That was a nasty statement!

It often takes 2 squad cars to pull over a single vehicle for speeding on Spring St. I don’t find the comment nasty or inappropriate. A legitimate question, IMO…

danika–YES! I think all Paso residents have seen this far too often! Yet we hear how poorly understaffed the Paso PD is and the response times get slower & slower. But I have OFTEN seen 2 cars pulled over on Creston & Spring w/some mom in a minivan who was probably just speeding. Or they park their squad cars on a cul de sac off Rambouillet waiting for someone to roll thru a stop sign…instead of policing trouble areas like Oak Park, Corral Creek Apts, etc!!

Other posters who do NOT live in Paso speak from ignorance. Our car was stolen from our driveway (in a nice neighborhood)… taggers destroyed a nearby street–trees, sidewalks, cars, walls, signs, etc…a guy was stabbed a mile away… Our elderly neighbor’s house was robbed… So yeah, I wonder why it takes 7 Paso cops to take down 1 unarmed guy. The rest of the city needs police presence, too.

Come Wine Festival and Amgen Tour time, I’ll know just where to find all the cops–Chief Lisa included–they’ll be downtown.

SLOBIRD: Your opinion is that my comment was inappropriate; my thought was that IF this guy (who apparently has some “issues”) did have a firearm, there could have been fatalities. I for one am glad that he did not. THAT is what I meant. If you take any other meaning from my comment, that is an issue you have to deal with. Period.

Do you even live in Paso, SLOBird? Have you personally experienced the rise in crime that Paso residents have endured for the last few years? Have you called the PD because a guy was riding a bike in the neighborhood, going into neighbor’s backyards at midnight and had to WAIT OVER FIFTEEN MINUTES for a response?? Have you had your once-nice neighborhood repeatedly tagged and get zero help from the PD?? Have you seen your police chief act like a party girl and event organizer instead of a strong leader??

Until you’ve lived it, don’t judge my posts on ignorance. As a long-time resident, I can attest that the Paso PD needs improvement from the top down. A new Chief would be step #1!!