Casualty Of Hysteria?

Ramsey County attorney John Choi released the findings of the investigation of the Philando Castile shooting.  Ramco charged Saint Anthony Park police officer Jeronimo Yanez with second-degree manslaughter in the death of the Saint Paul school employee last summer.

There are better commentators on the legalities and the sociology of this incident than me.

But there’s one angle that might be of some concern to those of you who exercise  your second amendment rights.  Castile was a carry permittee – meaning he had a clean criminal record (which also enabled him to get a job in a public school).

When you go through carry permit class, you’re taught that getting stopped by the police while carrying is one of the more dangerous times for a permittee.   The rules are vague, and cops are (as we saw in the incident) often badly trained on the law and how to respond to carriers.  But there are two generally-accepted trains of thought for the civilian carrier:

  1. Mention your permit and firearm only if the cop asks you to get out of the car.  If it’s a simple traffic ticket, it’ll never be an issue.
  2. Mention, calmly and casually, up front, that you have a permit and are carrying, and where, and ask the officer how they’d like to proceed.

According to the evidence released yesterday, Castile went with #2:


Officer Yanez is, of course, innocent until proven guilty.

But – assuming the timeline above is accurate (and that will no doubt be a major subject at trial), it appears officer Yanez had a very intense reaction to…

…to what?

To the fact that Castile was a black male who, according to some stories circulating last summer, allegedly resembled a suspect in a robbery?

If that were true, Officer Yanez apparently didn’t follow felony stop procedures; he approached it as a stop over a broken tail light.  Which might, to the casual observer, make it appear like he wasn’t concerned Castile was the suspect.

Which leaves what?  The carry permit status and the gun.

It’s possible Officer Yanez reacted with panic to learning that Castile had a permit and was armed, and over the course of seven seconds, went from asking a question to shooting Castile seven times at point blank range.


We don’t know.  We may or may not find out at trial.

But I suspect, at least in part, that the hysteria about carry permittees and their guns spread by the anti-gun groups in this state had a role.   Groups like “Protect” Minnesota and “Moms Want Action” have been painstakingly training people, mostly in and near the urban core, to be terrified of firearms in the hands of civilians.

And if that’s true, then there’s blood – the real kind – on the hands of the Reverend Nancy Nord Bence and the rest of the pack of liars she leads.

16 thoughts on “Casualty Of Hysteria?

  1. I would go with #1 and expand it to say never voluntarily offer ANY INFORMATION that the cop hasn’t asked for. Even then be extremely careful with what you tell them..

  2. The FBI agents I know suggest #2 as the way they think it should be done.

    But what if you’re a black guy? To be frankly honest, you’re screwed unless you’re in “business casual” or above attire because cops know the statistics on crime rates and race, even if they don’t openly admit them. I’d hate to be a carry permittee carrying at any stop because if you take door #1 and the cop sees your bulge he’ll be much more on edge. If you take #2, then you risk escalating the situation with marginal cops.

    Castille’s wording could have used some work and he should have mentioned the CCW first (he never mentioned it from what’s been reported) before saying he was carrying, but honestly, from what I can see from what’s been reported Castille was not at fault at all. If what Choi presented holds up, I’m afraid Yanez is 100% at fault and deserves this. Yes, being afraid for you life is a mitigating factor, but in this case I don’t think you can say that Yanez had any rational reason to be afraid.

  3. Unless I’m missing something, it doesn’t look like Castile actually told the cop he had a permit. He only said he had a firearm, which the officer could have misconstrued.

  4. from what’s been reported

    I don’t trust ANYTHING that’s been reported. Let’s hear what’s reported under oath.

  5. DMA, there is alleged to be dashcam video and the conversatoin in the indictment are in quotes so that means that there was a mic. The DA is refusing to release the dashcam footage (as he should) before trial. I’m not too concerned about what the media has done since I discount that as usually wrong or at least uninformed. What I’m interested in is how close to the truth Choi is in his statements.

    What I found curious was that Choi said that he couldn’t go up to murder and had to stop at manslaughter to get past reasonable doubt. I’m curious if that means that he’s concerned about the evidence he does have, or if he’s concerned about being able to sell a murder conviction of an on-duty cop to a jury.

  6. Wouldn’t murder require motive or pre-meditation? Which probably does not exist. I think the charge is probably appropriate. The officer made an unreasonable, deadly mistake

  7. Dave,

    I’ve heard that, too.

    Stressful situation. It’s easy to forget exactly what to say.

    Which is one reason people practice things they’re likely to have to do under pressure.

  8. It occurs to me that an officer uncertain about an armed person’s permit status might just call for backup.

    I also seem to remember that officers can figure out whether a driver has a permit from the plate number, so unless Castile wasn’t driving his own car, his permit status might have been known already.

    In other words, it’s not just drivers and permit holders who ought to run through stressful situations, and yes, if an officer assumes per Scott Knight that permit holders are a threat, then yes, things can go bad in a hurry, especially if the perp is black.

  9. Said it before, I’ll keep saying it. DON’T TALK TO THE POLICE.

    Give them what you must; license and registration. If he asks if you are armed, according to the law, you must answer. Otherwise say nothing, and nothing means nothing.

    Nothing good comes from volunteering to “help” a cop; never. They are not there to help you; don’t help them. They are not your friends, don’t start a friendly chat. Their job is to collect evidence to prosecute you for crimes. Everything they say and do is carefully choreographed to collect evidence against you; do not help them.

  10. I also seem to remember that officers can figure out whether a driver has a permit from the plate number, so unless Castile wasn’t driving his own car, his permit status might have been known already.

    Castile was driving his own car. And according to Fox9 at least, he’d been pulled over many times in it in locations not far from where he was killed. So it’s not like he was a stranger to the area or to interacting with the cops from the area.

  11. This case is exactly why every cop that steps outside a precinct office should have on a body cam that turns on the second they step outside the building’s door threshold, and doesn’t turn off until he steps back inside the building. And they should not be able to turn it off themselves. Technology has come far enough that there can be PLENTY of storage in a miniscule package, such that having the mic clipped to his uniform as almost every cop does, will be a bigger load than a camera.

    What about going to the bathroom? Tough shit (no pun intended). Someone can be responsible for editing that section out of any necessary footage. There is nothing else that a cop does outside of the bathroom that shouldn’t be recorded. This will protect the good cops from the bad public and the good public from the bad cops.

    Dashcam footage from behind the vehicle won’t give a view of what Castille was doing with his hands, only his head movements.

  12. I worked and trained with police for 36 years and will give this bit of advice: Have your hands in plain sight. That’s what they want to see.

  13. dwp4401: yep its drilled into the rookies to watch the hands not the eyes because “the eyes won’t kill you, the hands will”

  14. You’re right Duke, but if Castile hadn’t volunteered the fact he was armed, he probably wouldn’t have gotten shot. If there come a point where you have to get out of the car, the cop will ask if you have any weapons.

    That is the time you tell him if you have a pistol, and the time you want to have your hands away from your body.

  15. dwp; fair enough. Now question #2; what do you do to get the situation calmed down if the officer is clearly very nervous? Volunteer to sit tight while he gets backup because you want the encounter to end with everybody involved still breathing?

  16. “Watch the hands not the eyes because the eyes won’t kill you, the hands will”

    Good advice to citizens encountering an officer too.

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