NOTE: On July 16, 2016 Philando Castile was shot and killed by a policeman in St. Anthony, Minnesota during a traffic stop in an incident that appears to have been a tragic mistake. The officer was charged with murder, which is unusual, but was recently acquitted. He did lose his position on the force, though. One man is dead and maybe another man’s life is ruined.
The only sense I can make out of watching videos of the killing of Philando Castile, a black man pulled over in a traffic stop, is that there needs to be better police training and a better way to handle things when an officer expects trouble (or maybe when he does not, but comes across it).
And some way in which the shooting of side arms multiple times rapid fire can be put somewhere down on the priority list, still keeping officer and public safety first in mind.
I have watched and re-watched multiple times the police dash cam video and have watched a video taken by Castile’s female companion and can make no sense of exactly how and why it all went down.
And that is the trouble, most everyone who forms an opinion does so from limited knowledge. My opinion is not whether officer Jeronimo Yanez was justified in shooting or whether the victim was in the wrong, but just that something seems obviously wrong with police procedures or at least the way the officer handled it.
In fact he was charged with murder but was acquitted.
The fact is that Yanez was really pulling over the car because he suspected that at least one of the occupants might be a robbery suspect. But he went with the ruse of telling the driver that he was stopping him for bad tail lights, so as not so make him nervous.
But right off the bat I think that was wrong. I mean I have never had any police training but I’ll be doggoned if I was a cop and I thought someone might be a robbery suspect and I was pulling them over I would just casually walk up to the car and say I was stopping him (or her) for bad tail lights. I’d get on the PA system if I had one (most cop cars do I think) and direct the occupants of the car to carefully get out with their hands in the air.
And I’d want backup. And indeed officer Yanez did have another policeman helping him. No offense to the other officer, but the video I saw does not show that officer doing much of anything helpful. What he could have done considering the way Yanez approached it I do not know.
You have to see the available videos for yourselves — all on the internet. But what I saw was Yanez casually strolling up to the car, telling the driver he was stopping him for bad tail lights (and strangely using the future tense or something — like “it’s goona be your” such and such tail light). And then the driver, who we never see on the police dash cam video, but hear on audio, politely informs the officer that he has a gun. The officer responds something like: “ok, don’t pull it out” and then before you can even think the officer is firing his hand gun into the vehicle yelling don’t pull it out, and repeating that even after he begins firing his seven shots, more than one of which pierced Castile’s heart.
The problem is that we never can see what Castile, the dead man, was actually doing when he was shot. The officer claims he thought Castile was reaching for a gun. Castile’s girlfriend says he was complying with the officer’s directions to produce I.D. Castile’s last recorded words were that he was not reaching for the gun. A gun was later found in his pocket with a loaded magazine.
The victim’s girlfriend made a video of the aftermath in which she seemingly professionally narrated it, despite the obvious stress she seemed to be in. And it is worth noting there was a four-year old girl in the car too.
Reports have Castile not as a robbery suspect but a well-liked cafeteria worker at a local school. And he was licensed to carry a gun (not sure why, but just a citizen’s right I suppose).
And there’s a lesson or message: guns can protect you but they carry an awesome responsibility and they can put you in danger too.
I think there has to be some better protocol to avoid shooting into cars with children inside.
One thing the dash cam video seems to show is that officer Yanez was in way over his head and panicked. If one is fair, one must feel almost as much sorrow for him as the victim.
Again, we cannot see the victim just before he was shot, but the officer’s testimony was that he felt Castile was ignoring his instructions or commands. He also gave testimony to investigators that he smelled what appeared to be marijuana, but right off hand I don’t see much of what that might have to do with a decision to shoot.
Even though the victim was black, I don’t think in this case it is a racial thing necessarily. Officer Yanez is I presume Hispanic (and that has nothing to do with anything either I would think). And even though we keep hearing about white officer’s killing black people during traffic stops, there was a recent incident where a black officer was the shooter.
But no matter what your race or skin color, you would be advised to comply with an officer’s instructions and use body language perhaps to demonstrate (but no quick moves) to save your own life. Complaints can be made later when you are still alive to make them.
(And what good would police be, really, if they could not exert legitimate authority and people complied? Just the other day I witnessed an incident at a truck stop between a security guard who was small in stature — I don’t think he was armed — and a larger and belligerent and uncooperative man. The guard said he was going to escort him off the premises. The man just told the security guard to basically get out of his face. The security guard backed off. We don’t want to put our police in that position. I felt sorry and embarrassed for the security guard.)
And shooting first and asking questions later needs to be taken off police protocol.