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Jul-16-2021 02:24printcomments

EXCLUSIVE: Salem Man Killed by Police Needed Mental Help

Individuals with untreated severe mental illness are as many as half of all fatal police shootings

Arcadio Castillo
Arcadio Castillo III died via Salem PD gunshots July 9, 2021.
Photo: Castillo family

(SALEM, Ore.) - Late last Friday night, 23-year old Arcadio Castillo III was shot by Salem PD three times in the chest, killing him, in his parents’ home.

About 11:20 p.m. on July 9th, the Salem Police Department responded to a domestic violence call involving a suspect reportedly armed with a knife on June Ave NE.

Three people were at the home when the lone responding officer, Officer Nathan Bush, arrived. 23-year old Arcadio Castillo III was with his parents, and he had been drinking.

Arcadio Castillo battled with mental illness, ADHD, post-traumatic stress and severe manic depression. As a teen, he attempted suicide more than once. His aunt said that loneliness during the COVID pandemic affected him badly.

According to family, his mom tried to take his beer and he got physically aggressive, pushing her.

“He picked up a knife and held it to himself,” said his aunt, Lucinda Alvarado. “He wasn’t pointing it at anyone, just holding it in front of his chest. He did not threaten his parents with the knife.”

His mother told him she was calling the police, hoping that would de-escalate the situation and potentially get him some mental help.

The police officer arrived, stood on the front porch and opened the door. Castillo was standing about nine feet from the officer, according to witnesses.

Officer Bush reportedly shouted three orders for him to drop the knife in quick succession, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” Then, the officer fired his gun.

“It happened so fast, they didn’t even have time to think and it was over,” said Alvarado.

“My nephew needed help. The cop panicked. He didn’t wait for backup. He didn’t just kill Arcadio, he killed our entire family.”

Arcadio’s father was standing three feet from his son. “If I’d known he was going to shoot, I’d have stepped right in front of him,” he said.

Officer Bush shot Castillo in the chest three times. Witnesses nearby say they heard seven shots. More than three casings were found at the scene.

Other officers soon arrived and attempted lifesaving measures, but the 23-year old Salem man died from the injuries.

The officer was not injured during the incident.

HISTORY OF MENTAL ILLNESS

According to his family, Arcadio was struggling with mental illness but making personal strides. He had goals.

He was working at McDonald’s on Devonshire, and only needed to pass one more test (math) to receive his GED. While participating in the Ely program at a job fair, he met Governor Kate Brown. He loved politics.

“It’s very surreal for many of us. I’m very angry and sad that there wasn’t more done for him in his time of need and when he wasn’t fully mentally there. He was [like] my younger brother and we’ve shared so many good memories together,” wrote his cousin, Johnny Tackoz.

“No one is perfect. People go through hard times. He needed help - not to be killed,” added Alvarado.

In fact, people with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed during a police encounter than other civilians approached or stopped by law enforcement, according to a new study released by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Numbering fewer than 1 in 50 U.S. adults, individuals with untreated severe mental illness are involved in at least 1 in 4 and as many as half of all fatal police shootings, the study reports.

Many police officers are simply unprepared to handle mental problems and do not reach out to their own resources for help in managing these situations before reacting.

In this case, the officer did not deploy non-lethal tactics such as Tazers or Mace, and did not use psychology to stall the situation. He shot to kill.

The ACLU says that even throughout the pandemic when fewer people were “out and about”, police are still killing people at higher rates.

Their analysis also reveals that Black, Native American/Indigenous, and Latinx people are still more likely than white people to be killed by police. Castillo was Apache, Sioux, Hispanic, German and Irish.

TO SERVE AND PROTECT?

No one from law enforcement has reached out to the family with information that might help with the trauma they have suffered.

“They are victims as well. They are in pain and could use some support, but there was nothing,” said Lucinda Alvarado.

“The scene was horrific. Blood everywhere. The police sent Arcadio’s parents home and when they asked what would be done about the blood, they were told they had to clean it up themselves, that they (the police dept) weren’t going to do anything about it.”

“My brother, Arcadio’s father, walked into that and I heard him screaming,” said Alvarado.

“Arcadio’s sisters and his whole family have that in their heads. They can never un-see it.

“Now they have to pay thousands out of pocket, money they don’t have. It is unbelievably cruel.”

INVESTIGATION IS UNDERWAY

Officer Nathan Bush has been with Salem Police Department for four years. As per protocol Officer Bush has been placed on administrative leave during the investigation.

In the event of an intentional use of deadly physical force, per standard Senate Bill 111*, an organization outside the involved officer’s agency will conduct the investigation under the direction of the Marion County District Attorney.

In this case, the Oregon State Police will lead the investigation.

Once the investigation is concluded, the District Attorney has the sole duty to make the decision on whether to present this matter to a Grand Jury.

Should he be allowed to remain on the force, the officer will be required to attend at least one session of mental health counseling within six months, at agency expense.

This is an ongoing story. Please stay tuned for updates on this tragic case.

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ANNOUNCEMENT: Family and friends are invited to attend the Viewing of Arcadio Castillo III, Friday morning from 9-2 at Cornwell Colonial Chapel, 390 N. 2nd St, Woodburn, OR 97071. A celebration of life is yet to be announced.

There is a meal train (click here) and a GoFundMe for the family during this time of grief, including the cost of cleaning ($5450). Sources: *Marion County Sheriff’s Office; Treatment Advocacy Center; Tacreports.org, ACLU.

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