Monday, 19 September 2016

Was the shooting of the black man justified?

Philando Divall Castile, a black man, aged 32 graduated from Saint Paul Central High School in 2001 and worked for the Saint Paul Public School District from 2002 until his death. Philando began working as a nutrition services assistant at Chelsea Heights Elementary School and Arlington High School (now Washington Technology Magnet School). He was promoted to nutrition services supervisor at J. J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, in August 2014. Prior to the shooting, Philando was stopped by the police 52 times for minor traffic infractions. Other than that, he was an upright citizen.

On July 6th 2016 while in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota Philando was driving his car with his girlfriend and her small daughter as passengers when Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer and another police officer (Joseph Kauser) signaled him to pull over which Philando  did.

Both officers had been with the St. Anthony Police Department for four years at the time of the shooting, and were longtime friends who had graduated together from the Minnesota State University, Mankato police academy in 2010. They are two officers of the 23 police officers working in that Police Department.

According to a police dispatcher audio obtained by the media, one of the two St. Anthony police officers patrolling Larpenteur Avenue radioed to a nearby squad that he planned to pull over the car and check the IDs of the driver and passenger, saying, "The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery. The driver looks more like one of our suspects, because of the wide-set nose.”

Does that stupid police officer know just how many blacks there are in the United States and elsewhere who have a wide-set nose? Millions. Does having a wide-set nose by itself justify believing that someone committed a robbery.

Further, the St. Anthony police had sent out photos of a July 2 gas station robbery in nearby Lauderdale through the Minnesota Crime Alert Network. It described two men with dreadlocks robbing a gas station with handguns. Philando didn’t have dreadlocks that time in is life.

 Officer Yanez approached the car from the driver's side, while officer Kauser approached it from the passenger side.

The  stop  took  place  on  Larpenteur  Avenue  at  Fry  Street,  just  outside  
the Minnesota state fairgrounds, at about 9:05 p.m. 

At some point in the next 103 seconds—which are not covered by the audio—Yanez fatally shot Philando. WHY?                                                         

In the video, Yanez asked Philando for his license and registration. Philando told him that it was in his wallet. He also said that he had a pistol on him and that he was licensed to carry it.

Making that statement was the dumbest thing he ever did in his life. It got him killed.  The officer didn’t ask him to empty his pockets. He only asked him for his licence and registration of his car.

When Philando reached into his pocket to get his ID, the officer was in my opinion, legitimately alarmed so he yelled, “DON’T MOVE!” Obviously the officer couldn’t be sure if Philando was going to pull out his ID or his handgun.

Now here is where the shooting becomes questionable. According to Reynolds, her boyfriend put both of his hands upwards. Yanez shot Philando in the arm four times. It was the same arm that Philando was using to reach for his ID.       

On the video, Reynolds says "Please don't tell me he's dead," while Yanez exclaimed: "I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand open!"        

According to police and emergency audio of the aftermath obtained by the Star Tribune, at 9:06 p.m., Officer Kauser called in the shooting, reporting: “Shots fired. Larpenteur and Fry.” The dispatcher states, "Copy. You just heard it?" Yanez exclaims, “Code three!”  Many officers then rush to the scene. One officer reported. “One adult female being taken into custody. Driver at gunpoint. Juvenile female, child, is with another officer. We need a couple other squads to block off intersections." Another officer called in, "All officers are good. One suspect that needs medics.”     

Reynolds, was taken into custody and interrogated at a police station then released the following morning around 5:00 a.m.

Reynolds later said that officers had failed to check her boyfriend for a pulse or to render him first aid, and instead comforted the crying officer who fired the shots. Reynolds stated that Philando received no medical attention at all until the paramedics arrived more than ten minutes after the shooting.       

If this is so, then the officers were in the wrong. If they had placed a tourniquet around Philando’s arm, he wouldn’t have bled to death. The inaction of the police officers at the scene was a sign of complete indifference to the survival of the stricken man which tells you something of their character which in my opinion; was rotten to the core.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office ruled Philando Castile's death a homicide and said that he had sustained multiple gunshot wounds. The office reported that he died at 9:37 p.m. in the emergency room of the Hennepin County Medical Center, about 20 minutes after being shot.

There is no doubt in my mind that by the time the ambulance had arrived, it would have been too late to save the man. 

 Following Philando’s death, the video had been viewed nearly 2.5 million times on Facebook. On July 14, Philando was buried following a funeral service at the Cathedral of Saint Paul, attended by thousands of mourners, diverse in race, gender and age. In my opinion, the fact that a great many white people attended the funeral is evidence that they believed that Philando died needlessly at the hands of Yanez.

Yanez and his partner Kauser were placed on paid administrative leave which is generally standard practice in police forces.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) was the lead agency in charge of the investigation.

Under Minnesota state law, the names of carry permit holders are not public records, and state officials have thus not confirmed whether Philando had a permit. That is a really dumb law. If gun permits were on record, the police could have originally confirmed if Philando was licenced. if it was determined that he had no permit, then they would have grounds to arrest him for carrying an unregistered firearm. In any case, that is academic since Philando stated that he was licenced and was shot anyway.

Two days following the shooting, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi called for a “prompt and thorough” investigation into the shooting. He said that he had not determined whether he would use a grand jury, but stated that if either a grand jury or prosecutors in his office determined that charges were appropriate, he would “prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law.

I have my doubts that Yanez would be convicted if the matter went to trial since in my opinion, he probably feared for his life if he really thought that that Philando was really pulling his gun out of his pocket immediately after Yanez ordered him to not make a move. If Philando had not told the officer that he had a gun in his pocket in the first place, the officer would not have panicked and shot Philando if he saw the butt of the gun in Philando’s hand.

On July 9th, Yanez's attorney, Thomas Kelly of Minneapolis, said his client "reacted to the presence of that gun and the display of that gun" and that the shooting "had nothing to do with race. This had everything to do with the presence of a gun.” This could mean that Philando was pulling the gun out to give to Yanez.

Can anyone with a functioning mind really blame Yanez for shooting Philando after he saw Philando pulling the gun out of his pocket if that is what had really happened?

If Yanez actually thought Philando was a robbery suspect, then the right practice of the police would be to make  a "felony traffic stop which would involving bringing the suspect out at gunpoint while other officers are in a position of cover and having the suspect lie on the ground until they can identify who that individual really is.

Considering that Yanez stated that he thought that Philando was a robbery suspect, he went about the wrong way to approach the man whom he suspected was a robbery suspect. If he had done it the right way, Philando would be alive today.

Demanding ID from a robbery suspect while standing next to the man in his car is a sign of absolute stupidity. What would looking at the ID help the officer to confirm one way or another that the suspected man was a robber? 

Reynolds, Philando’s girlfriend had said they were told that they were stopped because of a broken tail light which acc0rding to the victim’s girlfriend really wasn’t broken.

I believe that Yanez stopped Philando’s car merely to be a nuisance since the two adults in the car were black. Racial profiling has been a concern in the State of Minnesota. This explains why Yanez exclaimed “Fuck” right after he shot Philando. He knew this catastrophe occurred because he had initially made a nuisance of himself when he stopped the car in the first place for no real legitimate reason.

Was it possible that Yanez was aware that Philando frequently made comments about social justice. For example, he posted a photo of the Black Panther Movement and wrote, “BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!” In another post, he passed on a Tupac Shakur quote, “They got money for wars but can’t feed the poor.” He also wrote: “GOD IS GOOD!!!! ALL THE TIME !!!!!!” In another post he said, “They criminalize the black lifestyle !!!!” This is a reoccurring theme in his writings: “We We still slaves to the system !!!!!!” In another post he wrote, “U GOIN TO JAIL NOW !!!!!” to which a friend commented, “You must’ve watch that Video of the bus driver Knockin that Girls Head off … Lol.”

Governor Mark Dayton  has subsequently released a statement calling for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. He said, “I extend my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and community of Philando Castile. Our state today grieves with them. This morning, I spoke by phone with White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough to request that the U.S. Department of Justice begin an immediate independent federal investigation into this matter.”

I don’t think the governor would offer condolence and go so far as to ask for an investigation by a federal department if he didn’t think that Yanez had acted improperly.

I will keep you informed as an UPDATE when this matter is finally put to rest. 

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