Montrose man believes SWAT had no right to barge into home

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by Drew Karedes / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 10:12 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 3 at 10:20 PM

MONTROSE, Texas -- A Montrose man whose home was barged into by a SWAT team in April is now telling his side of the story.

Officers were called to the four-story home in the 1200 block of West Pierce Street for a noise complaint.

Police said things escalated when the homeowner pointed a gun toward officers.

Jon Castorena said that is not at all what happened. He was recently cleared by a grand jury and feels he’s owed an apology by police.

“Until you live that moment, you don’t know what it feels like. I was scared to death. They wanted me to come out, and I thought they wanted to kill me,” Castorena said.

It started as an ordinary Sunday night, according to Castorena.

“Just before bed, I had set my alarm through my iPad. The iPad controls my home audio,” Castorena said. “There’s a button if you accidently push it -- it will cue the music on the fourth story to start playing.”

Castorena said he accidently cued one song to play on repeat on his outdoor fourth story terrace. He claims he had no idea music was playing.

According to Castorena, he was awoken by a loud banging at the front door.

“It wasn’t just a knocking. It was a banging. It was tremendously loud,” Castorena said. “At that point, I thought someone was breaking into my house.”

Castorena claims he was convinced an intruder was trying to get in.

He said he grabbed his gun and peeked down from the second floor. Castorena said he could only see a figure of a person through the frosted glass and didn’t know it was an officer.

“You can’t see through my front door, especially at night,” Casterona said. “The officer claims I pointed a gun at him, which never happened.”

Castorena recalled saying out loud that he was armed to scare the person on the other side of the door.

He said he then walked outside onto his balcony and saw police.

“What came back at me was a slew of swear words followed by, this is HPD,” Castorena said.

Castorena said he feared for his safety and called 911.

“It scared me to death. I literally thought they thought I had killed someone. It was that intrusive,” Castorena said.

The situation played out for hours.

It ended soon after he received a call on his home phone.

“A man identified himself as the SWAT sergeant. He said I had exactly ten minutes to come downstairs or they were going to start tearing my house down,” Castorena said. “About a minute later, the SWAT team runs through my front yard and batter rams my front door.”

Castorena was led out in handcuffs and charged with felony assault.

Now that he’s been no billed by a grand jury, he wants police to hear his message loud and clear. “Step back for a minute and lend a little empathy to the person on the other side of the door. You don’t know what they’re feeling, just like I didn’t know what he was feeling,” Casterona said.

HPD declined to comment on this story, partly because the case has already been handled by a grand jury.

A spokesman said he urges anyone who feels they’ve been mistreated by police to file an internal affairs complaint.

Castorena said he’s in the process of doing that and plans to file an official complaint on Friday.

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