I’m just a plainspoken Colorado criminal defense lawyer, but the way I see it…
In the United States of America, the Second Amendment to the Constitution secures the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Just not black people.
In yet another trial of a police officer who is seen on video slaughtering a black man (or boy) without provocation, a jury has replied, well, that is just standard procedure. Black men and boys are scary. And a black man who tells you he has a gun? Blast away.
And that’s exactly what St. Anthony, Minnesota, cop Jeronimo Yanez did. As Philando Castile was reaching for his license — as Yanez had just ordered him to do — Yanez panicked and murdered him.
The video from the police car dash camera, which the cops only released after the trial, shows us.
Yanez casually walks to the stopped car, leans over and tells Castile he was stopped for a faulty brake light. He asks for Castile’s license and insurance. Castile hands over the insurance. Then, while reaching for his wallet for his license, Castile calmly and politely says this:
“Sir, I have to tell you I do have a firearm on me.”
Yanez, already pulling his gun: “Don’t reach for it then. Don’t pull it out.”
Castile: “I’m not pulling it out.”
Castile’s girlfriend, sitting next to him in front: “He’s not…
Yanez, clearing his holster, raising his gun and reaching inside the car, his voice rising in panic: “Don’t pull it out!”
Castile: “I’m not!
And Yanez fires point-blank at Castile, seven shots as fast as he can pull the trigger.
The girlfriend screams, says “Why’d you just kill my boyfriend?”
Castile, mortally wounded, moans “I wasn’t reaching…”
The girlfriend: “He wasn’t reaching…”
Yanez, now in full panic and screaming at Castile, who has been thrown to his right side against his seatbelt by the impact of five bullets, two in the heart: “DON’T PULL IT OUT!!! DON’T MOVE!!!”
The girlfriend: “Oh my god…oh my god”
Yanez: “DON’T MOVE!!! DON’T MOVE!!! DON’T MOVE!!!” At this point he sounds like a total madman. The girl-friend’s four-year-old daughter, who has been in the back seat the whole time, opens the right-side back door to escape this madman, and has already walked to the arms of Yanez’ partner, who had backed away at the sudden shooting, never had drawn his own gun, never showed any concern before Yanez opened fire.
Yanez pointlessly screams: “GET THE BABY GIRL OUT OF HERE!!!”
It took four seconds for this cop to decide to kill this black man who had a gun. Despite Yanez’ claim he saw Castile’s hand around the gun, it wasn’t until paramedics removed the gun from his right pants pocket that anyone else saw the gun. It was loaded but unchambered so unable to be fired immediately.
Yanez was fired immediately following the trial acquittal, to the credit of the police chief.
But the jury, like so many of them before, and the police force that gave him a parting gift of $48,500, reinforced the credo of police practice in communities of color.
You stop a black man? He give you any lip unbecoming the descendant of a slave? Put a cap in his ass. He mention he has a gun in his pocket? Put two in his heart. You good to go.