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Opa-locka family furious with police for what they call unnecessary, rough treatment of teen in distress

A South Florida family is claiming police went too far during the arrest of their teenage son.
A South Florida family is claiming police went too far during the arrest of their teenage son.

OPA-LOCKA, Fla. – A South Florida family is claiming police went too far during the arrest of their teenage son.

The 19-year-old was dragged feet first from an apartment despite not being suspected of crime.

In fact, Jafet Castro-Reyes’s cousins called police to come help the young man back on Sept. 21, who was in psychological distress.

“I think it’s wrong because we called the police for help, not for bad attitude,” said Erlin Varela, Jafet’s cousin. “They put a taser, not one time, three times. They put a taser and I think that’s wrong.”

The tasing and what the family describes as rough treatment by the dozen or so Opa-locka police officers and supervisors baffled the teen’s family on that Monday afternoon.

Officers originally reported Jafet “obstructed justice” and “resisted arrest with violence” but that’s not what cameras documented, nor how neighbors describe what they watched.

“One of them had a knee in his back, handcuffed,” said neighbor Robin Wilson. “I thought that was very unnecessary.”

Wilson added that she did not see Jafet resisting arrest.

The officer seen in video of the incident dragging Jafet from the apartment is now Opa-locka’s acting Administrative Lt. Sergio Perez.

Perez had actually been fired from the department for his actions in 2013 involving a catastrophic wrong way crash on I-95 that killed four people.

Perez was terminated for violating department procedures by pursuing the wrong way on the highway before the crash. He got his job back in arbitration.

Opa-locka City Manager John Pate released the following statement to Local 10 News on Friday: “The city is currently reviewing the incident in question. The city is conducting an internal investigation initiated by the city as this incident involved the application of force that injured multiple officers while trying to control a non-compliant individual under the influence of a narcotic. Once we have concluded this investigation, more information will be released.”


About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."