SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — The mother of a man that was shot and killed by a police officer in July 2021 filed a wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the officer and the City of Salem.
The lawsuit filed by Misty Castillo alleges that Salem police officer Nathan Bush used excessive force in the incident, which resulted in the death of her 23-year-old son Arcadio Castillo III.
Castillo had a history of mental illness and related abuse of marijuana and alcohol, according to a lawyer representing Misty. Between April 16, 2020, and July 9, 2021, Salem Police were dispatched to the Castillo residence on nine separate occasions for domestic disturbances directly related to mental and substance abuse disorders that Castillo was struggling with.
“The Castillo family is devastated by the tragic and preventable loss of their son,” said attorney Ron Sayer, “They reached out for help to those sworn to protect and serve. We hope this case shines a light on the dire need for police departments to utilize behavioral health and crisis negotiation officers when responding to community members experiencing mental health crises. Lives depend on this critical training and the judgment, skill and discipline of officers to apply it.”
On July 9, 2021, Bush arrived at a scene in the 3700 block of June Ave. NE around 11:20 p.m. after a 911 caller reported that her son was assaulting her and her disabled husband at their home, authorities said.
The 911 operator could hear sounds of a struggle and an inaudible male voice, then the caller was heard saying “get away from me” followed by screaming. Then the line reportedly went dead.
Officer Bush parked down the block and ran to the house on foot so as not to alert the suspect, court documents show. He reportedly found the 911 caller with injuries to her hand, wrist, knee and leg after her son, Castillo, slammed her into her car, knocked her to the ground and dragged her across the cement.
Bush went to the front door of the home where Castillo was inside with his father. Bush said he could hear voices, one of which was growing more agitated.
The father opened the door and Bush could reportedly see Castillo holding a large butcher knife while standing in the living room. Bush pointed his gun at Castillo and ordered him to drop the knife, but Castillo started walking slowly toward the officer, authorities said. Then he turned and started walking toward the back of the house but suddenly spun around and rushed toward Bush with the knife raised in a stabbing position. When Castillo came within five feet of Bush and the father, Bush opened fire — hitting Castillo four times. Castillo collapsed and Bush called for medics and began giving Castillo first aid.
However, Misty claims in the lawsuit that after Bush yelled at her son to put the knife down, Bush fired four rounds from his weapon at Castillo “immediately and without pause,” saying that Bush didn’t give her son ample time to comply.
“At no time prior to defendant Bush’s use of deadly force did Arcadio raise the knife, make a movement in defendant Bush’s or his father’s direction nor otherwise threaten defendant Bush or Arcadio Castillo Jr.,” the lawsuit says.
In August 2021, a grand jury found that Bush was justified in his use of deadly force.
The City of Salem declined to make a statement about the lawsuit, but did say that the “Salem Police Department takes these incidents seriously and participates fully in the related proceedings.”