PHOENIX (AP/WCMH) –Three Phoenix police officers have resigned after a man alleged they forced him to eat marijuana found in his vehicle to avoid going to jail, Chief Joseph Yahner said Thursday.
A fourth officer, Jeff Farrior, was demoted from lieutenant to sergeant for being aware of last week’s incident and not taking appropriate action, Yahner told reporters.
“Their actions are appalling and unacceptable. This conduct is against everything that we stand for,” Yahner said.
Police identified the three officers who quit as Richard G. Pina, Jason E. McFadden and Michael J. Carnicle.
Two of them are being investigated both criminally and by the department, Yahner said, adding that the third officer is considered a witness to the act and is the subject of just the administrative investigation.
Yahner said all of the officers’ video cameras were turned off and did not record the incident in which a 19-year-old Phoenix man was stopped for a traffic violation around 3:30am. on Sept. 13. Edgar Castro said he didn’t think anyone would believe what happened.
“I was at a red light at 43rd and McDowel when the cops approached me from behind,” Castro said. Police found a gun and a gram of marijuana in his car and gave him a ticket. But then, one officer asked him if he wanted to go home or if he wanted to go to jail.
“The officer was like either you eat the marijuana or go to jail tonight,” Castro said. “I asked him ‘Do I really have to do this, do I really have to do this’ a couple of times.” Castro immediately told the sergeant on scene.
Castro reported feeling ill after ingesting the marijuana of an unknown potency, but didn’t need any medical attention, a police spokesman said.
Yahner called the allegations about the officers’ actions “disturbing and upsetting.”
The three officers who quit were all in their first year with Phoenix police and were probationary employees, according to Yahner.
“I was going to fire them. They chose to resign,” he said.
Yahner declined to discuss details of the criminal and internal investigations.
Castro says he doesn’t hold any ill will towards the officers.
“I don’t hold grudges against nobody,” he said. “I appreciate that it came as far and the action they took was responsible for the chief, that’s about it.”