This week the city of St Anthony, Minneapolis released the Police dashboard camera footage of the shooting of Philando Castile. The footage reveals 2 things: 1) Philando Castile was murdered in cold blood and 2) a Policeman’s fear of danger, even fear of loss of life alone is not justification to murder black men. This police shooting answers the question of whether a Policeman’s right to fear for his life outweighs a citizen’s right to live. The following CNN video and text reveal the deadly truth of why a policeman’s fear is an unacceptable reason and a criminal offense to kill someone.
Officer Yanez approaches the white 1997 Oldsmobile and leans in to speak through the driver’s window. Another officer approaches but stands farther away on the passenger side. Yanez tells Castile his brake lights are out.
The video does not show Yanez’s point of view or the inside of Castile’s car, where his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter were passengers.
Yanez asks for Castile’s driver’s license and insurance.
Thirty seconds into the conversation, Castile begins to tell Yanez that he has a weapon.
Castile: Sir, I have to tell you I do have a …
Castile: … firearm on me.
Castile: I (inaudible)
Yanez: Don’t reach for it then.
Castile: I’m, I, I was reaching for …
Yanez: Don’t pull it out.
Castile: I’m not pulling it out.
Reynolds: He’s not.
Yanez: Don’t pull it out.
Yanez, whose hand had been near his gun, pulls out his weapon and fires seven rapid shots into the car, striking Castile five times.
Reynolds: You just killed my boyfriend.
Castile: I wasn’t reaching …
Reynolds: He wasn’t reaching.
Yanez: Don’t pull it out!
Reynolds: He wasn’t.
Yanez: Don’t move! (Expletive.)
Yanez is then heard shouting obscenities and breathing heavily
as the tape continues.
The child exits the car amid the chaos, and the other officer picks her up.
Reynolds begins sharing a live video on Facebook, narrating in calm tones. She is told to exit the car and walk backward to an officer.
Officers are seen removing Castile from the car, placing him on the street, and treating him.
Others interview Yanez, who shouts obscenities repeatedly.
“I’m (expletive) up right now,” Yanez says at one point
Yanez: I told him (sigh) ‘Can I see your license?’ And then he told me he had a firearm. I told him not to reach for it. And when he went down to grab, I told him not to reach for it. And then he kept it right there, and I told him to take his hand off of it. And then he, he had his grip a lot wider than a wallet.
Other officer: OK.
Yanez: And I don’t know where the gun was, he didn’t tell me where the (expletive) gun was.
Other officer: OK.
Yanez: And then it was just, getting hinky, he gave, he was just staring straight ahead and I was getting (expletive) nervous and then, I told him, I know, I know, (expletive) I told him to get his (expletive) hand off his gun.
Yanez gives a brief explanation of the events to a supervising officer on the scene. Yanez says he told Castile not to reach for the gun and that Castile’s “grip (was) a lot wider than a wallet.” Yanez continues, saying, “I don’t know where the gun was. He didn’t tell me where the (expletive) gun was.”
Officer Yanez obviously was in fear but not in fear of imminent danger to his life, Officer Yanez was in fear of the stereo-type black man. A fear that he had long before he approached Philando Castile’s car, a fear so bias that it said to him that any black male who voluntarily says they have a gun must be a cold-blooded killer. This type of racist/prejudice fear is not enough, its not an acceptable excuse for killing anyone.
There is a real difference between a person fearing imminent danger meaning they are about to actually lose their life, versus someone having a racist or prejudiced fear of what someone might do to them. Had Officer Yanez not let the fear he created in his own mind overtake his sanity, when he approached Castile’s car he would not have stepped right up to the driver side window. Instead he would have placed himself 1 step back behind the left shoulder of Castile so he could see potential danger and have time to react.
This would have been following police training procedures as the dashboard camera shows his partner doing so, but unfortunately his preconceived notions about black men prevented him from following procedure.
While we should all be grateful for the service and protection of life that all Policeman provide, we must realize that simply being in fear is not an acceptable reason for the Police to take someone’s life. The jurors who found Officer Yanezoff not guilty of murder don’t realize the difference between fear of imminent loss of life, and racist preconceived fear of someone of a different race or culture.
Fortunately for all the citizens of St Anthony the St Anthony Police Department does know the difference. Even though he was found not guilty they did the right thing and fired him taking a murderer of black men off the streets. Making St Anthony, Minneapolis 1 less rogue policeman safe for Black Males!