June 22nd, 2017

In We must remain shocked over Philando Castile. Justice needs moral outrage, Chiraag Bainsa, a former prosecutor for the U.S. Justice Department, writes:

A jury recently acquitted Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the 2016 killing of Philando Castile, a beloved school cafeteria worker. On Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office released key evidence, including video from Yanez’s squad car and his interview with investigators.

Two things are evident from the new material: Castile’s every move was calculated to maintain safety and survive the encounter, and Yanez was responsible for turning the situation deadly.

Castile was cooperative. He pulled over immediately. He did not try to flee, resist or even complain. When the officer asked for his license and insurance, he handed over proof of insurance. He calmly and politely volunteered: “Sir, I have to tell you I do have a firearm on me.”
In fact, under state law, Castile didn’t have to tell the officer about the gun unless asked. He did so to be prudent – for his own safety, that of girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter, and for the officer. Castile had been stopped before – 52 times since 2002 – and likely saw the wisdom in complying.

Yanez told Castile: “Don’t reach for it then.” Per the government’s evidence, Castile reached for his wallet. He even tried to explain this, telling the officer “I was reaching for –”, but was cut off by Yanez ordering: “Don’t pull it out,” referring to the gun. Continuing to communicate, Castile responded: “I’m not pulling it out.” Reynolds chimed in, saying “He’s not –”, but Yanez opened fire.

The result is that Castile was shot for doing what the officer asked: getting his license.

Maybe I’ll be able to write tomorrow.

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