Philando Castile was shot seven times, after being pulled over for having one of his break lights out, by a police officer that is now a free man. After the Facebook Live video streamed by Castile’s girlfriend caught worldwide attention, massive outcries began to build pressure on the situation in Minnesota, and the trial was poised to bring about justice to a community that is suffering and feeling ignored and betrayed by the people who are sworn to protect them. But that justice never arrived as Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of all charges, on June 16, related to Philando Castile’s death.
Philando Castile had clearly indicated to the police officer that he had a legal gun as he reached for his driver’s license during the “routine” traffic stop, which would turn fatal. The police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, shot Castile seven times while Castile’s girlfriend sat next to him and his daughter was in the back seat.
The defense for Yanez argued that he feared for his life after Castile told him about his legal weapon, and they also claimed that Yanez smelled marijuana on Castile and that Castile matched the description of a local robbery suspect.
To clarify the premises in other words, a man who: clearly articulated to a police officer he had a weapon; smelled of a medicine associated with relaxation; and was also surrounded by his loved ones, made an officer fear for his life so extremely that that said officer was justified to execute lethal force on this man?
This logic is flawed. There is no possible situation in which the premises listed above are true and the conclusion that Yanez should have feared for his life is true.
What dangerous person who wants to harm a police officer tells a police officer about their legal weapon? What person would want a gunfight around their family? The logical answer to these questions is: nobody. Therefore Castile would have to be completely insane to have made Yanez fear for his life, and the evidence has shown this could not be.
The only sound support to claim Jeronimo Yanez feared for his life is that Castile could have matched the description of a robbery suspect, but this story of a black man matching a robbery suspect description which results in a tragic death unrelated to any robbery is too common to willingly accept as truth or justification anymore.
The undeniable relevance in the case of Philando Castile’s heart-breaking death is highlighted in a question asked by Minnesota’s governor Mark Dayton when he said, “Would this have happened if the driver were white if the passengers were white?”