As if the acquittal of Officer Jeronimo Yanez who fatally shot Philando Castile wasn’t enough of a slap in the face, the presiding judge, Judge William H. Leary III, wrote a supportive letter to the jurors involved in the case.
In a move rarely ever done, Judge Leary penned a letter to the jurors stating that he was supportive despite the massive and widespread criticism that they are experiencing. Stating that the public and media outlets, have “a failure to understand what you were asked to do.” While he stated that he is not giving his opinion on the actions of Officer Yanez, he believes that the jurors verdict was “fully supported by a fair interpretation of the evidence and law you were obligated to apply.”
The jury, made of majority white people (surprise, surprise) and two persons of color, decided after five days of deliberation to acquit Yanez on June 16th of second degree murder and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm DESPITE dash cam footage showing Yanez firing his gun into Castile’s car with his girlfriend and daughter in the backseat.
To add further insult to Castile’s death, Judge Leary quoted THE Malcolm X at the end of his letter. That’s right y’all, Malcolm X.
If you care to, you can read Judge Leary’s message to the jurors below. But from the people to you Judge Leary, we have a full understanding of what the jury was called to do. They were called to make a wrong decision right, to speak for Castile who unfortunately can no longer speak for himself. How did a stop for Castile’s backlights being out result to him being murdered in front of his girlfriend and daughter? How did a stop for Castile’s backlights being out turn into his then 4-year old daughter pleading to her mom saying “Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted.?”
There is nothing that can justify this, nothing. They didn’t even have to take anyone’s word, they had the footage. And even still, the black man in America loses.
Transcript of Judge Leary’s Letter:
The criticism of the jury’s decision of which I am aware has focused primarily on a reaction to the squad-cam video and on consideration of issues you as jurors were never asked to address. You were simply asked to determine, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether a crime had been committed.
You were never asked to decide whether racism continues to exist, whether certain members of our community are disproportionately affected by police tactics, or whether police training is ineffective.
“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” – Malcom X