Written by Rohan Jani/Staff Writer
Looking to skateboard, Matthew Carrillo trespassed the main campus, only to find himself under the hands of University Police Chief, Alexander Casas.
The seventeen-year-older admitted he’s not an FIU student, but he said Casas went too far the day of the incident Sunday, May 3.
According to a recent cell phone footage, Casas “appeared to be calm,” which matches with the description that WSVN News provided of the event. However, disputed claims appear to show that Carrillo was innocent for his actions.
“Once he had his hands on my neck, I was a little scared because I didn’t know where it could have gone from there,” said Carrillo.
Prior to the argument that ensured between Casas and Carrillo, surveillance footage depicted that the teen and two acquaintances had been skateboarding on the top floor of a parking garage. They attracted enough attention from campus police to inquire what was happening.
Police reports indicated that Carrillo and his friends refused to surrender their skateboards to the authorities after causing some trouble. Fearing that the dispute would build up to a violent quarrel, Casas “placed his hand and forearm on the male’s upper chest” to force him to hand over the skateboard.
However, Carrillo said he was not hurt or injured in any way, but he was scared of Casas’ handling. According to the University’s security camera footage, there was no physical contact, thereby confirming Carrillo’s standpoint.
“Chief Casas took action to ensure the safety of three young people… who were skateboarding recklessly down parking garage ramps,” said Kenneth Jessell, Senior Vice President & CFO of the Division of Finance and Administration. Casas did not comment during press time.
The camera footage did not show the physical contact. According to University officials, the camera does not record when there is little motion.
Nitish Kapur, a senior information technology major, said the University needs more security cameras on campus for this type of issue.
“Both parties need to be able to hold each other accountable to their statements so that these kinds of confrontations can be avoided. People need to get their phones out and cops need body cameras,” said Kapur.
Kapur said that Carrillo shouldn’t have attracted attention to himself if he didn’t want trouble. He also said that the FIU Police Department should be more familiarized with how to use the cameras to avoid this kind of situation from happening.
“If [the skateboarders] had known about the giant signs near the parking garages that indicated that police buildings were nearby, they would have known better than to choose the highest traffic volume garages,” he said.
Lawyers and attorneys were hired during the aftermath. Tatiana Carrillo, the teen’s mother, decided to take action against FIUPD.
While the Carrillo family has not yet filed civil lawsuit claims against Casas, the latter is being investigated and reviewed as the case is processed.
FIU has contacted representatives from both the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the State Attorney’s Office for additional support in the investigation.
Rashad Richardson, a junior recreation and sports management major, said the crime scene can be seen as either a group of teens refusing to listen to authority, or a cop abusing his power.
“[We know that] with great power comes great responsibility, and if you can’t handle authority within a respectable means, you deserve to be stripped off that power,” said Richardson in reference to Casas.