Federal jury clears Atlantic City police officer of charges stemming from K-9 attack

A federal jury has acquitted an Atlantic City police officer of charges stemming from a K-9 attack that resulted in a $3 million settlement.
The panel on Thursday found Sterling Wheaten not guilty of a civil rights violation and falsifying records after deliberating about three hours.
The charges stemmed from an encounter with David Castellani outside a casino in 2013.
Security video shown at the trial showed several officers trying to subdue and handcuff Castellani, who admitted on the witness stand that he had been kicked out of a casino for underage drinking and was intoxicated and acting belligerently.
As several officers held Castellani on the ground, the video showed Wheaten arrive with a police dog, which attacked Castellani. Castellani testified he suffered severe lacerations to his head, chest and neck.
In closing arguments Thursday, federal prosecutors contended Wheaten violated Castellani's rights against unreasonable search and seizure and that he should have considered other options before using force.
Wheaten's attorney argued his client was responding to officers who were in distress and the only option was to deploy his police dog.
Castellani previously settled a separate lawsuit against the city and several police officers for $3 million, his attorney in that case confirmed.
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