Another SWAT Team Outrage

On Tuesday, the Wharton Police Department in Texas shot a 17-year old boy, Daniel Castillo Jr. to death. The SWAT team was serving a search warrant looking for drugs after the police allegedly witnessed a drug deal take place at the residence. According to the family, Castillo was unarmed and asleep when the SWAT team burst into his bedroom door and killed him. Radley Balko has the details

According to [Rick] Dovalina [head of the local LULAC chapter], police say they found what appear to be stems and seeds of marijuana, either in the Castillo home or in the yard behind it. Contrary to earlier reports, the victim’s father, Daniel Castillo, Sr. was not arrested or charged with a crime.

Police did arrest a man in a white pick-up truck outside the house. The man was apparently dating one of the victim’s sisters, and police claim they found crack cocaine in the vehicle.

Dovalina says Daniel Castillo, Jr. was unarmed, had no criminal record, and according to his father, was not involved in the drug trade. The police affidavit for the search warrant claims an unidentified informant saw crack being sold from the house. It names “David Castillo” as a possible suspect, then later, “Daniel Castillo.” That tip and police observations of “traffic” at the Castillo home formed the basis of the forced-entry SWAT raid. No one but the police knows the identity of the informant.

According to his sister, Castillo was shot just below the eye as he rose up from his bed after hearing her scream. She was holding a 1-year-old child just a few feet from the shooting.

So here we have a SWAT team, in search of Demon Crack, that shoots a kid in the face after they wake him up. The kid was unarmed, there was no reason to shoot him. Sadly, these incidents are becoming all too common as a result of the War on (some) Drugs and use of no-knock raids and SWAT teams. Sadly also, there won’t be as much outrage to this incident as there was over the Kathryn Johnson and Sean Bell shootings because people have become desensitized over these killings.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.
  • Aimee

    This is just sickening, I don’t know what to say.

  • Anonymous

    Is marijuana worth taking a persons life? Sometimes I think that this isn’t about the drugs, it’s about people daring to disobey the almighty state.

  • Withheld

    People need to start holding their police accountable. At gunpoint, if need be. Everyone involved in botched raids like that should be fired and charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, or being an accessory to murder. Lock them up.

  • Timmy

    Compared to other ‘civilized’ countries, the USA and its society is incredibly unenlightend and barbaric.

  • WhoAmI

    See? Legalize drugs.

  • Carlos

    Watch the guy who shot the kid get promoted.

  • dave

    the united states has the dumbest, most ignorant, retarded people on the planet. no wonder you have a “war on drugs”. just like you think absistence education is stopping hiv in africa. yeah fucking right!

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  • Randy

    With the protections the Constitution affords one in shambles from Bush’s actions, it’s a wonder everyone aren’t running for the exits!

    Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    The passage of the Patriot Act marked the death toll for many Americans the 1st time around. It meant the death toll for America itself the 2nd time around.

    The sad thing is what’s bad for America is also bad for the rest of the world.

    The sane people of America in positions of authority need to get their shit together and get it back on track for the betterment of everyone.

  • Walter

    This needs to change.
    This is not responcible law enforcement.

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  • Ben K

    How many people have to die before Americans realise that they are _people_, just trying to survive, doing the best they can. Every american who votes for a continued ‘war on drugs’ is as responsible for the death of these people (and the loss of lives wasted in prison) as they are for the 150,000+ dead in Iraq. One can only conclude the American people have no conscience. What’s strange is that America has the highest rate of religiosity among the developed nations. Where does it say in the Bible to kill all substance abusing wastrels and third world peoples unlucky enough to live on top of oil? The comfortable upper class professional who votes to throw young black people in prison for 10 years for simple posession is far more of a problem than a poor youth selling prohibited compounds in order to survive. If you think all those sellers are rich look at the recent economic surveys that study drug culture. They make less than if they worked at mcdonalds.

  • Hugh Pearse

    Im never visiting that godforsaken country until theres a regime change!

  • Nice one dude

    This happens only in the USA.Or how a bunch of 300 million morons like living under fascism.

  • Adam Selene

    Hmmmmmmm, this doesn’t only happen in the United States. I’ll point you to something written by someone I know wrote about his experiences with police in so called democracies. In fact, the US still is more liberal in respect to the amount of power the police have over citizens than almost any Western European country.

  • Stephen Littau

    America has its problems but I would still prefer to live here than anywhere else in the world. You people act as if these problems (i.e. the war on drugs) are limited only to the U.S. but these laws are far more restrictive elsewhere. In many ‘civilized’ countries, an individual cannot even own a gun!

    I think its a little unfair to make a blanket statement that ALL Americans are morons. America is the most diverse country by almost every measure and especially when it comes to political opinions.

    It was our American ‘moron’ grandfathers and gandmothers that rid the world of Nazism and Japanese Imperialism. That’s right I FUCKING SAID IT…IF NOT FOR AMERICA YOU INGRATES WOULD ALL BE SPEAKING FUCKING GERMAN AND WOULD BE FORCED TO BOW TO THE THIRD REICH!

  • Richard

    You have elected the guys that have hired and trained these SWAT guys. So it YOUR fault. Throw them out of their offices and elect someone with a human brain.

  • Hermes Ten


    This is only partially true. It would be more accurate to say: “if not for Russia… yada, yada, yada.” Most of the German casualties occured at the hands of the Russians, and the Russians took terrible loses fighting the Germans.

    You might argue that our logistical support enabled the Russian war effort, but it was still a lot of dead Russians that turned the tide.

    Of course, you also assume two other things with your rather childish assessment of WWII: 1) that Eastern Europe was better off under Russian communism than Nazism; and 2) that without external conflict there would have been no successful attempts to oust Hiter from power. Dubious assumptions at best. In spite of the Holocaust, Uncle Joe still killed way more people than Hitler did.

  • Dave

    Just for the record – I spoke with an official associated with this case. Apparently the residence has been under observation for several months (there was substantial evidence od drug dealing going on there) AND an off-the-record comments said that the young man was NOT ‘shot in bed’ – but rather was sleeping at first, THEN LUNGED AT THE OFFICER entering the room. The shot was a defensive reaction – not a cold-blooded killing.

    Guess we’ll never know the truth – LULAC and activists have already staged protests and ‘played the race card’ – now its just damage control mode for authorities…


  • Stephen Littau

    Hermes, yes it is true the Russians took the most casualties but the tide did not turn until the U.S. got involved. For you to minimize the sacrifices of U.S. forces is maddening though. Two of my great uncles were among those who sacrificed (one was killed by a Nazi sniper, the other was starved to death in a Japanese prison camp) so pardon me if I sound a little ‘childish’ for what those bastards did and for the complete lack of gratitude from people like you.

    Furthermore, if not for the U.S., Russia would have had more control of the once held Nazi territories. Though Russia did retain some of the conquered territory, the Allies kept Russia from taking much of it. The territories held by the Allies were returned to the former regimes as much as possible. Up until this time, all of the spoils of war, namely territory, normally went to the victor. The fact that the U.S. and the U.K. did not annex these lands to their countries is an anomaly in world history.

    As to your second assumption, who is to say if Hitler would have ever been taken out of power if his dreams would have been realized? The point is, the U.S. DID stop his dream from being realized and untold millions of lives were saved as a result.

    Speaking of dubious assumptions, where are you getting this notion that “Uncle Joe still killed way more people than Hitler did.” Are we talking about collateral damage or genocide? Are we talking recent history or are we going all the way back to the Mayflower? I’m not saying that the U.S. does not have its sins to atone for but name me one country that doesn’t.

  • Nick


    What the hell would you do if you were asleep, rudely awoke by a trespasser in “ninja” gear, who was pointing a weapon at you and your family. I would’ve lunged too. As a matter of fact, I have beat the crap out of friends who thought it would be funny to jump into bed with me while I was sleeping. It’s a natural reaction.


  • Hermes Ten

    Speaking of dubious assumptions, where are you getting this notion that “Uncle Joe still killed way more people than Hitler did.

    I don’t think there is any question that Uncle Joe (Stalin) killed more people than Hitler did (excluding combat casualties both military and civilian): estimates range from 25 million (about the same as Hitler) to over 100 million.

    Sorry for using the term “childish.” My point is merely that you’re assuming the world was better off, net, with Uncle Joe (Stalin), than with Hitler. Maybe you’re right, maybe not. The fact is, the commies killed more people than the fascists. Without US intervention Europe may well have remained under fascist control. Given the viciousness of either regime, no one can say for certain whether or not “winning” WWII was better or worse than staying out of it, for us, and the rest of the world. Maybe all we did was trade evils without knowing which one was the lesser.

  • Stephen Littau

    I feel like such an idiot. When you used the term “Uncle Joe” I thought you were referring to the U.S. I had never heard that term before. I assumed you meant the U.S. based on some of the other America hating comments to this post.

    Now that I am clear that Uncle Joe is Joe Stalin; without doing my own fact checking I believe your statement is correct that Communism killed more people than Nazism. Your point is which was worse?

    I would say both are terrible and both killed in the millions. Be that as it may, the U.S. eventually brought an end to Soviet Communism and many people are free as a result. Maybe the U.S. should have pursued Stalin immediately after WWII (I believe Patton was among those who wanted to do just that if my history is correct) and certainly Communism still exists in China, Cuba, and other parts of the world. Obviously, the U.S. cannot and should not make war in all these places if they are not a threat to us directly (Which is debatable. The idea of preemption seems to be a non starter now). Right or wrong, at some point those who desire freedom must fight for it themselves because the U.S. can only sacrifice so much.

  • Adam Selene

    At the risk of starting a huge debate, it is unquestionable, in my amateur historian opinion, that the United States prevented the partial to complete domination of Europe and the Far East by Germany and Japan, respectively. The USSR could not have achieved better than a stalemate without US LendLease, regardless of the revisionism of Uncle Joe and the rest of the Russian/Soviet leadership.

    It is also unquestionable, regardless of the revisionism that has since occurred, that Reagan, Thatcher, John Paul II and Lech Walesa started forces in motion that toppled the USSR.

    All that said, what was worse or better is hard to determine. Is a “mere” 12 million dead worse than the 25 million, or so, in Soviet Gulags and midnight terror? Well, the Soviets were a bit less direct about their murders, whereas the Nazi’s ran their’s in an organized, industrial fashion. Horrific!

    What is indisputable is that Socialism, whether of the National Socialist, Bolshevik or Maoist variety, has killed more people than every war of humankind put together. Socialism is an evil that bears no goodwill of any sort, not even the mild socialism of the US Democratic Party.

  • Stephen Littau

    I couldn’t agree more Adam

  • Hermes Ten

    “At the risk of starting a huge debate, it is unquestionable, in my amateur historian opinion, that the United States prevented the partial to complete domination of Europe and the Far East by Germany and Japan, respectively.”

    I don’t think there’s a debate here. I don’t disagree with this at all. I’m not even saying that our doing this wasn’t a good thing. I’m only saying that there is no way of knowing whether the “fascist” domination we prevented would actually have been worse than the communist domination we thereby facilitated. Personally, I’m inclined to think FDR did the right thing by putting the US into the war. And I think if forced to choose, I’d choose Stalin over Hitler. However, with hindsight, it strikes me as simplistic to take the position that our participation in WWII was some kind of sine qua non vanquishment of evil that unequivocally produced a better world.

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