Drug Policy

Daniel Castillo, Jr.


As I posted earlier, the 17-year-old Houston resident was shot to death Tuesday by a police SWAT team during a drug raid on his family's home. It's increasingly looking like yet another paramilitary drug raid gone horribly wrong.

The father of a 17-year-old killed by a police officer who was looking for drugs at his home said the shooting was unprovoked.


The elder Castillo said his son was awakened by the pleas of his 20-year-old sister, Ashley. When the younger Castillo turned toward Falks, he said, the officer shot him in the face.

"My son heard her say, 'Don't shoot.' He got up to see what was going on," the elder Castillo said.

The teen's sister was with her 1-year-old when Falks burst into the bedroom, the elder Castillo said.


Castillo said his son had no criminal record and was not selling drugs and that he fears the shooting will be ignored.

It's not online, but another version of the story from the Houston Chronicle accessed through Lexis contains the following passage:

Meanwhile, the state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens said Wednesday he will ask the FBI to investigate. Rick Dovalina said he spent Wednesday with the family and officials in Wharton to discuss the shooting.

Dovalina said he obtained a probable cause affidavit for the search warrant issued by Wharton County Justice of the Peace Jeanette Krenek. He said the task force seized no weapons or drugs at the scene.

Authorities aren't commenting.

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  1. Dang! It’s a textbook illustration of what the drug war has wrought. Radley Balko, you are the hammer of the gods.

  2. “Yet from those flames
    No light, but rather darkness visible.”
    Paradise Lost. Book i. Line 62.

  3. How can men in good faith continue these atrocities? I know that it’s been shown in experimentation (Stanford Prison Experiment, eg) that these things can happen, but knowing that, how does it persist?

    I am saddened, disappointed, angered, etc by these things.

    I must also raise a heart-felt “thank you” to Mr Balko for his most poignant stories about these atrocities (if I am not being too hyperbolic in saying that)…

  4. Kudos to Mr. Balko for bringing to light these injustices. The article on the Atlantic case highlights what a real investigation should consist of. I was indoctrinated in school about how our system bends over backwards to protect the innocent – its becoming more and more apparent that there is very little true accountability in the criminal justice system. Prosecutors, can overcharge, undercharge, or not charge at all – one of the most important functions of government – being prosecuted, is done by one individual with no real oversight.

  5. What I’m still waiting to hear is that a violent drug dealer with a long criminal record is actually the one who is shot and killed by police following protocols to the letter by means of a warrant obtained on a creible tip by an unpaid informant with nothing to gain.

    I’m sure that it’s happened – apparently not often – but it seems that there’s way more drug raids go wrong than right, especially once the guns start blazing.

  6. Here’s a suggestion: no more drug raids. Unless there’s a ticking time bomb or a child with a knife to his head, there’s no reason to raid such an establishment in a way that causes such dangerous life or death situations. If a police force can surround a place, then they can cut off the water (only one flush, use wisely!), cut off the electricity and the gas, and then wait it out. And if it’s not worth the media attention and the overtime and the inconvenience to the neighbors, maybe it’s just not worth the effort in the first place.


  7. Qn innocent kid gets shot in the face and killed and there’s no coverage. A border guard who shoots and wounds a known drug trafficker is all over the headlines treated like he’s some kind of monster. Where’s the justice in that?

  8. Why can’t the cops wait until the suspect leaves the house to go to the movies or the grocery store, quietly surround him, etc? The drug evidence will still be back at his home.
    It is time to demonstrate and boycott towns and cities where this nonsense goes on. No LP conventions any kind in Houston until justice is served. Write their visitor’s bureau and tell them you’ve just cancelled plans to vacation in Houston.

  9. Stop the bullshit! Stop the fraud! Stop the abuse! Add your cause here…

    Vote 3rd party ! ! !

    …I need a bumper sticker.

  10. Well I am doing my part, reposting these articles on my MySpace page. I hope I can do something to help awareness that might end this slide to a police state.

  11. Does this kind of speculation qualify as a conspiracy theory?

  12. No, Corn Syrup Boy, it doesn’t. It’s a wretched pattern of despicable abuse.

    Never chalk up to conspiracy that which can be explained by plain stupidity.

  13. Never chalk up to conspiracy that which can be explained by plain stupidity.

    We are speculating here about the attempts to cover up and/or suppress details of this incident. By the po po’s. Perhaps with some assistance from po-po-friendly media.

    You are saying that the possible attempts to cover up and suppress this incident are the product of “stupidity?”

    I wouldn’t call it that.

  14. May Don Falks die in a very painful way.

  15. Once again Radley, thank you so much. Please keep us updated and keep fighting for us.

  16. innocent kid gets shot in the face and killed and there’s no coverage. A border guard who shoots and wounds a known drug trafficker is all over the headlines

    If only Anna Nicole Smith had been shot in the face. Nancy Grace would cream her jeans.

  17. If only Anna Nicole Smith had been shot in the face. Nancy Grace would cream her jeans.

    What would Nancy Grace do if Daniel and Anna died because somebody clandestinely tampered with their drugs?

  18. I am adding to the idea that I read Larry A. pointing out, in a much earlier thread

    A policeman can make a mistake with a weapon that would earn us a long prison sentence, and suffer little to no consequence other than guilt. For a newspaper article in my area, Houston Texas, illustrating the trend, see http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/special/04/shootings/2701187.html and

    & my personal favorite, where an officer shot an unarmed 14-year in the back of the head while cuffing him, see http://www.talkleft.com/story/2005/01/21/999/89613

    The officer was found guilty of negligent homicide, the jury recommended probation, the judge sentenced the officer to the maximum of 6 months in jail. You or I make that kind of mistake with a weapon, say while securing a burglar in your home, and I doubt the punishment would be as lenient. Frankly, living in Harris County, I was surprised to find that he was even indicted, much less convicted.

    The leniency towards these negligent discharges is appalling. It provides little incentive to minimize risk to the general public. It encourages these very dangerous tactical raids, by the idea that the only things that matter in serving a warrant are the safety of the individual officers and the incremental greater likelihood of preserving evidence. (despite the numerous incidents of friendly fire during these raids.) Aside, have the ballistics reports come back in the Kathryn Johnson shooting in Atlanta? Have the police explained how one 92-yr old woman caused three wounds from one pistol shot, or as is more likely, did it turn out that the officers ended up shooting each other?

    It perverts the ordinary idea in tort liability that we hold experts to a higher standard than the layperson. The only way these raids will stop happening so frequently is if they are either too expensive politically or financially. Radley is doing his best as far as the first goes. The rest of us, I think, can do more. Where I live, the District Attorney is an elected position. Send them a letter with your views. Let other candidates know that this is important to you, etc…

    As far as the second goes, it won’t change until cities and their police officers start feeling the damage in the pocketbook.

    Look, I want the police to able to do the job that we and our legislators have given them. (Which actions should be crimes and therefore part of the police’s job to restrict, is another topic entirely)

    I just think that they can largely do it without having to kick in doors on scanty evidence and shoot unarmed people.

    (Things to do today: learn html tagging…)

  19. Living in Harris County myself, it strikes me as outrageous that police officers can act as criminals getting so much as a slap in the wrist, if at all. As a legal immigrant, I am PROHIBITED to arm myself, to protect my family and my home, yet armed thugs can enter my property without even a knock on the door, induced by an “informant”.

    It is a shame that these things happen in the land of liberty.

  20. Here’s a suggestion: no more drug raids. Unless there’s a ticking time bomb or a child with a knife to his head, there’s no reason to raid such an establishment in a way that causes such dangerous life or death situations.

    You said it, brother. Why, the next thing you know, they’ll be using a Special Weapons Assault Team to raid, oh, I dunno, someone who purloined a video game.

  21. I knew the castillo’s i went to school with danny sister. i lived in Wharton and know how crooked the cops are i am praying for the family and hope the police department are convicted.

  22. Sounds like some of ya’ll need to ease up on the kool-aid. According to the majority of you a bunch of cops just walked into some poor kids house and killed him for no damn good reason. Perhaps the speeders were so light they just figured what the hell and went out and killed him?

    What flavor is that you are drinking again? Or would a more appropriate question be what are you putting in it besides sugar?

  23. Why is anyone upset over the death of someone who deals in drugs?
    I look at it this way, his death prevents him from selling more drugs to people who may be addicted to getting more drugs and killing more innocent people in order to buy more freeking drugs… it’s pretty simple to a non-addict..
    He’s a dead drug dealer… we should be celebrating…

  24. Dirty Don-

    It has yet to be proven that he dealt drugs. He had no criminal record. He wasn’t under the influence of drugs when he was killed. It was an illegal shooting. MURDER. Plain and simple. If they can do it to him, they can do it to anyone. You should be crapping your pants about that right now.

    I don’t do drugs or deal drugs, yet it isn’t that clear to me. Go back to the rock you crawled out from under. Celebrating anyone’s death is disgusting.

  25. Think about it..
    the real victim of drug crimes are the people maimed or killed by addicts who commit crimes to finance their addiction..
    It’s pretty simple..

    I always celebrate the death of a murderer, or someone who contributes directly or inderectly to such a crime.

  26. Sooo your point about Danny is? He wasn’t a dealer, addict or murderer. So that means he is a victim? Correct?

    The murderer was Officer Don Falks. So when he dies, I guess I can count on you to be there to dance on his grave?

  27. first of all danny was not a drug dealer, drug user or a gang member! he was an innocent child who did not desirve to die! that was wrong! he wasn’t abel to live his life! the cops gave no warning and had a gun pointed at his sister and her baby. he was awaken from his sleep! you shoul be ashamed of yourself!the cop that killed(murdered)him is the one who should die! we need justice! you must be white taking up for that fucker you can kiss our ass we dont need your support we got plenty! so take a big lick of the asscrack of our whole family bitch!!!!!!!!!!

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