Cop Offers Man Ride Home, Drives Him to Secluded Area, Beats Him Up, Steals His Cash & Phone

Chris | InformationLiberation
May. 07, 2013

After a dispute at a bar for alleged underage drinking, 20-year-old Rodolfo Lopez Castaneda, who police have not yet confirmed was involved in the drinking incident, was offered a ride home by Lee County sheriff's deputy Michael J. Ronga. Rather than drive him to his home, Ronga allegedly drove him to a secluded area and beat him up, then stole his cash and his phone.

ABC-7 reports:
The victim, 20-year-old Rodolfo Lopez Castaneda, told deputies he was at Maria's Restaurant in Bonita Springs where deputies responded in reference to a disturbance early Sunday morning.

According to the report, Ronga offered Castaneda a ride back to his house. Castaneda accepted and Ronga patted him down before driving off.

Ronga did not drive to the victim's home, instead he drove to a secluded area near the intersection of Isla Bella Circle and Somerset Falls.

"I thought he was going to take me to jail. I said, 'Why, if I'm not doing anything?'" Castaneda remembered.

The victim told deputies that once they arrived at the location, Ronga punched him several times and took his cell phone and money.

"He grabbed me right there, he turned me around and he started to hit me just like this - hard. I started bleeding. My face was full of blood, my whole mouth was," Castaneda described.

The victim managed to get away and fled to a wooded area. The suspect got back into his vehicle and drove away.

"I left running because I was scared," said Castaneda.

When he got home, his sister took him to the sheriff's office, where he again came face to face with Ronga as paramedics treated his injuries.

"The guy who hit me arrived and I said to my sister, ‘That's the one who hit me! That's the one who hit me!' And I said, ‘Where's my phone?' And he seemed mad," Castaneda remembered.

At the scene investigators discovered physical evidence verifying the victim's story resulting in the charges.

As Rodolfo recovers from the attack, he says he wonders why someone who's supposed to be protecting him could do just the opposite.

"After, I thought, 'Why would a cop hit me like that? If I was doing something bad, he could arrest me and that would be it,'" Rodolfo said.

Deputy Michael J. Ronga is now facing a robbery charge, and he's been placed on administrative leave without pay.

To answer Rodolfo's question, cops are employed not to protect and serve the public, but to protect and serve the state.

Of course, in practice, as this case illustrates so starkly, they act to serve themselves first and foremost.
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