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Judge denies bail for YouTube ‘constitutional scholar’

Updated April 1, 2024 - 7:18 pm

A Las Vegas judge denied bail on Monday for a YouTuber who is appealing his conviction for resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Ann Zimmerman sentenced Jose “Chille” DeCastro, 49, to 180 days in the Clark County Detention Center during a bench trial last month.

A self-proclaimed “First Amendment auditor” and “constitutional scholar,” DeCastro was accused of interfering with a Metropolitan Police Department officer during a traffic stop, by refusing to back up when he was filming.

Since his conviction, DeCastro hired prominent Las Vegas defense attorney Christopher Oram to represent him for an appeal. Oram asked for Zimmerman to grant DeCastro bail, and said that his client wanted to apologize for his “disrespectful” behavior during the trial.

“I think he really is contrite for what he’s done,” Oram said.

“I disagree,” Zimmerman replied. “Have you watched the videos that’s been posted since he’s been incarcerated?”

Zimmerman denied the bail request while DeCastro appeals the case. Following the hearing, Oram said it’s rare for judges to grant bail after someone has been convicted.

DeCastro also has a case pending in Las Vegas Municipal Court.

He was arrested in a separate incident in February after he filmed officers at a hit-and-run crash scene. He has pleaded not guilty to a charge of obstruction.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Agnes Botelho said Monday that DeCastro has an active warrant in Ohio on a misdemeanor trespassing charge. Court records show he is also facing a civil citation in Goodsprings for failing to obey a traffic control device.

In a video posted on March 28, DeCastro called a man who was livestreaming through DeCastro’s YouTube channel, Delete Laws. The video started with the man hosting the livestream showing the viewers a picture of Zimmerman, and saying “I do not know how she can sleep at night.”

When DeCastro called into the livestream from the jail, he said he took “full responsibility” for being sent to jail.

Then he started talking about the judge, saying that there are police officers in her family. The jail terminated the call as he continued to talk about Zimmerman.

“He’s going to apologize to me in a minute, but that’s not what he’s saying on what he’s publishing online in his phone calls from the jail, that’s not what he’s saying at all,” Zimmerman said Monday.

On March 15, 2023, DeCastro walked up to a woman who had been pulled over by a police officer in a parking lot near Flamingo Road and Grand Canyon Drive. Body-camera footage showed the officer step out of his car and tell DeCastro to back away and stop speaking to the driver.

DeCastro told the officers to “mind your business,” and called the officer a “doggie.” The officer then told DeCastro he was being detained.

Oram told the judge Monday that there isn’t much case law in Nevada addressing filming police officers.

“I recognize that it’s obnoxious behavior. That’s what it appears to be,” Oram said. “Whether it’s protected is another thing that I think higher courts needs to look at.”

During the bench trial, DeCastro called a courtroom marshal a “pig,” when the judge told him to turn over his phone, because she didn’t grant him permission to record the hearing. Later in the trial he was seen shaking his head when the prosecutor, Chief Deputy District Attorney Agnes Botelho, argued that he had been detained to protect the officer’s safety after he did not follow instructions.

DeCastro also flashed the judge a thumbs-up sign when she said it appeared that he hated all police officers.

Zimmerman said Monday that she did not sentence DeCastro due to his behavior during the trial or for filming the officers.

“That was not the issue, it was the safety issues that he created with his behavior,” she said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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