Regina Sung, Photo Editor

New Haven Police Department officials gathered on Friday to mourn the life of Officer Joshua Castellano, who died following a motor vehicle accident.

A mass led by Rev. John Paul Walker was held at St. Mary Parish on Friday. Castellano was a seven year veteran of the NHPD before being assigned to the shooting task force, which focuses on investigating gun violence cases. This week, his friends and family recalled memories of him and praised his character.

Castellano died on Sept. 17 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fellow NHPD officer Robert Ferraro — who was behind the wheel —  was arrested and charged for driving under the influence and for reckless driving. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department is currently investigating the crash that led to Castellano’s death. According to a press release from the LVMPD, the car was entering the intersection of West Spring Mountain Road and South Decatur Boulevard in Las Vegas at a high speed when the driver began to lose control of the car. As the car continued on West Spring Mountain Road, it collided with roadside utility poles, landscaping and a fire hydrant. The car turned over on its roof and ejected Castellano.

After his death, Castellano’s body was flown to New Haven, where a funeral procession of officers in salute marched on Prospect Street and Hillhouse Avenue in honor of the fallen officer.

“​​He understood that community policing is about using the spirit of the law to ensure that all members of the community are treated with dignity and respect,” Yale Police Department Assistant Chief Anthony Campbell told the News in an email. “Joshua was an excellent police officer but more importantly he was a phenomenal human being.”

Campbell further added that Castellano embodied qualities that could not be taught in a police academy, such as the ability to connect to others through a common humanity and the ability to empathize with residents. 

Among those who spoke at the funeral were officer Jeremy Mastroianni, Matthew Sapienza and Renee Dominguez, acting chief at the NHPD.

“He came from ordinary, humble beginnings and he became one of the most loved people in this entire city, and everywhere else he went,” Sapienza said at the event. “He did it one friend at a time. Friend by friend by friend, he garnered all of our love.”

Mastroianni, who said Castellano was his best friend and partner in the department, fondly remembered their memories working together. He said their partnership was called “Nitro Hawk and Turbo Falcon” because they would routinely get on foot chases with potential suspects. Mastroianni also shared that he had asked Castellano to be the best man for his wedding next year.

Dominguez said that she was honored by the chance to speak at the occasion. She said that she was Castellano’s first supervisor and drafted him from the academy.

“Every supervisor he ever worked for fell in love with him,” Dominguez said. “Every one of us wanted 10 more Joshes. We wanted to fill every new vacancy with [someone like] Josh, because he was just that good … He gave 100 percent, never complained, and did it with a smile.”

In a note circulated by NHPD Public Information Officer Scott Shumway, the Castellano family said that at this difficult time, they are comforted by the “overwhelming love and support” they have received from Castellano’s colleagues and the New Haven community.

They also said that they are comforted by the acts of service Castellano showed during his time as an officer. 

“We hope that others will honor Joshua’s memory by following his excellent example of selfless service to the community,” the Castellano family wrote. “As we pray for strength during this dark time, we will celebrate Joshua’s remarkable life and the light and joy he brought to our lives and the lives of so many.”

Campbell said that Castellano’s character and traits were instilled in him by his mother Denise Castellano — who has worked as Yale Licensing Manager for four decades. Campbell added that he was thankful that she allowed the NHPD and the New Haven community to be blessed by his service and character.

Castellano was 35 years old.

Razel Suansing is a staff reporter and producer for the City, YTV, and Magazine desks. She covers cops and courts, specifically state criminal justice reform efforts, the New Haven Police Department, and the Yale Police Department. Originally from Manila, Philippines, she is a first-year in Davenport College, majoring in Global Affairs.