Two perspectives on the Yanez verdict:

David French at National Review points out something that a lot of Yanez’ defenders miss:

If you read carefully, you’ll note that it appears that the officer shot Castile for doing exactly what the officer told him to do. Yanez asked for Castile’s license. Castile told him that he had a gun, and the officer – rather than asking for his carry permit, or asking where the gun was, or asking to see Castile’s hands – just says, “Don’t reach for it then.” At that point, Castile is operating under two commands. Get his license, and don’t reach for his gun. As Castile reaches for his license (following the officer’s orders), and he assures him that he’s not reaching for the gun (also following the officer’s orders). The entire encounter, he assures Yanez that he’s following Yanez’s instructions. He died anyway.

I’ve heard more than a few police-supporting conservatives justify the shooting by saying Castile had been told not to reach for his gun – but to comply with the other order he had to reach in the same general area (right rear pocket).  Some, with the benefit of hindsight, think that Castile should have reacted better.

To which I respond “sit down in front of a microphone, or in front of a Toastmasters meeting, and give a speech for which you’re unprepared.  See if you remember your kids’ names”.  Stress does unpredictable things with human reactions.  Try it sometime.

Better yet, don’t. Carry permittees are taught that the most dangerous time they’ll most likely face is police contact.   If you’re a carry permittee, you need to train for police contact just like you train to deal with a threat; you need to go over your line, over and over.  Because from where I sit, it seems Castile’s big mistake was getting his lines backward – mentioning his gun before his permit.

The other perspective – NRA commentator Colion Noir:

Other than Yanez’s testimony, there is nothing I read about the trial or any newly revealed facts to suggest that Philando was going for his gun. However, I don’t know what Yanez saw that made him think Philando was going for the gun, I wasn’t there, and I only have his words to go by. Sadly, Philando isn’t here to tell us other than his last dying statement of, “I wasn’t reaching for it”.

Personally, I feel because Yanez pulled Philando over under
The suspicion that he was a robbery suspect coupled with the presence of a gun, it put Yanez in a heightened state. I feel he lost control of his wits and overreacted. This now brings me to the question of race. Do I think Yanez felt threatened by the fact that Philando was black? It’s very possible Yanez was indifferent about Philando’s race. However, because of the negative stereotype reinforced in the media about black men and guns, it wouldn’t completely surprise me if Yanez felt more threatened by Philando because he was black. This is the same negative stereotype that I’ve been trying to combat for years now.

Both pieces are worth reading all the way through.

Open Season

Ever thing you’d see the day I’d agree with John Choi’s office about…well, much of anything?

Mazel tov.  Here we go.

Choi’s office responded to Saint Anthony PD officer Geronimo Yanez’s attorneys’ motions to dismiss the charges stemming from the shooting of Philando Castile last summer.   The motion cites the claims that Castile – a carry permittee – wasn’t complying with Yanez’ commands during the traffic stop, and that as traces of THC were found in his bloodstream at autopsy, he simply must have lied on his carry permit application.

The response:

The memo from prosecutors asks Ramsey County District Judge William Leary to deny the defense’s motion to dismiss.

“Probable cause adequately supports the charges (in this case).  Any potential negligence by Castile is a question of fact for the jury,” according to the memo.

Prosecutors further stated that Minnesota courts have “repeatedly affirmed” criminal convictions where negligence on the part of the victim was in play. They also said the defense couldn’t prove Castile was using illegal drugs when he applied for his permit to carry his gun because that application was submitted more than a year before the shooting.

Additionally, even if Castile didn’t have a permit to carry, Yanez’s decision to shoot him seven times still would have been reckless, according to prosecutors.

“A police officer does not have the right to kill someone just because they possess a firearm they may or may not be entitled to have” prosecutors said in the memo.

The memo also questions the defense attorney’s clairvoyance in deducing that Castile was using marijuana when he applied for his permit – certainly a difficult claim to prove without use of Dionne Warwick’s friends.

Kudos to Choi’s office for refraining from gratuitously putting carry permittees at grave risk for no good reason.

The Gang That Couldn’t Not Shoot, Straight, Part III: That Golden Ticket!

I’m continuing my five-part series going over “Protect” Minnesota’s press release on the Self-Defense Reform and Constitutional Carry bills, which were introduced last week in the House.

But first, a quick aside.

Records:  While the criminal-safety  movement would like you to think otherwise, gun violence is neither generally random nor unpredictable.  Our violent crime rate – which has been dropping for two decades – is not evenly distributed across the population.

I’m not referring to geography here – although the numbers also manifest geographically.

Ethnicity, either, for those of you who are inclined to see racial dog-whistles in all conservative writing.

But it’s a simple fact that if a person gets to age 21 without a violent felony record – whether they’re from rural Kentucky or downtown Baltimore – the odds are pretty good they will go through their entire life without one.

And the vast, vast majority of firearm crimes involve people with records of violent and serious property crime, either as perps, victims, or both.  It’s exceedingly rare that someone of any race with a  pristine record vis a vis violent and property crime shoots someone.  (Mass shootings are usually an exception – but they are also a different  phenomenon and, notwithstanding the coverage they receive, are vastly rarer.  Also, they are overwhelmingly associated with places where victims are disarmed – but that’s another discussion).

This isn’t a tangent; it’ll come back up.

Clairvoyance?:  Consider the following scenario:

A man walks out of a bank.  He’s carrying a sawed-off shotgun (a violation of federal law) and a bag of cash.

A policeman rolls up.  A policewoman jumps out and, taking cover behind her car, yells “Show me a your carry permit!”

That sounds absurd, doesn’t it?  It is, of course.  There’s a crime underway.  The subject’s paperwork is less relevant than the fact that they reasonably appear to be in the middle of committing a violent felony.

Here’s another scenario; a policeman sees a middle-aged black family man, with his wife and his kids, sitting outside a Dairy Queen across from Lake Josephine, drinking malts and talking about their day.   A passing police officer sees the imprint of the butt of a handgun under the man’s shirt.

It’s possible that the guy is carrying illegally – and the cop may well walk over to ask if the man has a permit (he does) and advise him to tuck in a little to avoid getting ninnies riled up.  But it’s pretty much a fact that middle aged family guys, Tony Soprano notwithstanding, generally aren’t gangsters on the warpath.

This discussion brings us to The Reverend Nord Bence’s next point (with emphasis added by me):

The permitless carry bill also represents a particular threat to law enforcement officers, who cannot possibly discern who is a “good guy with a gun” and who’s a “bad guy with a gun” during the few seconds they would have to respond to a lethal threat.

Um, what now?

Does The Reverend Bence think carry permits are externally visible?

If the officer is facing a lethal threat – an immediate threat to their existence on this planet in this lifetime – permit status is irrelevant.  If you present someone with a legitimate fear of death or great bodily harm, the paperwork is irrelevant.

And not just if you’re a cop.   One of the criteria one must face to justify lethal force in self-defense as a civilian is a reasonable, immediate fear of death or great bodily harm.  If someone is waving a gun, a knife, a machete or a chainsaw at you, and a reasonable person – 12 of them, really – would agree that your life is in danger right now, then the law doesnt’ require  you to be a mind-reader, whether you wear a badge or not.

And if your fear is not reasonable, you are going to be in trouble – as Saint Anthony officer Geronimo Yanez is discovering to his chagrin in court, after allegedly panicking and shooting and killing Philando Castile, who was in fact a good guy with gun, and had a plastic card in his wallet  to prove it.

Yanez might be acquitted – he’s innocent until proven guilty – but it points the the fact that when the Reverend Nord Bence says:

If passed, this bill would force police officers to treat everyone they encounter as armed and dangerous.

…she is, as usual, talking through her ELCA hair.  Cops are always alert for danger, but behavior counts – and the consequences of misreading behavior are serious and irreversible for the shooter, whether it’s a cop or a civilian.  And even more so for the target.

Handicap:  I’ll spot Nord Bence a point here:  I’ll help her explain the point that she apparently can’t.

A carry permit can, in theory, help a cop figure out who is and is not a law-abiding citizen, assuming there isn’t a violent encounter underway – something Nord Bence apparently hasn’t figured out.

Of course, all the information a cop needs to know about a citizen’s legal status is available with a call to their precinct, or a few keystrokes on the computer in their squad car, just as fast as checking the validity of a carry permit.

The Reverend Nord Bence may not know that – which is ignorant – or may know it but be trying to fool the ignorant, which is merely repellent.

It gets worse.

  • Monday:  Game On!
  • Yesterday: Data, Data Everywhere!
  • Today:  That Golden Ticket
  • Thursday:  I Don’t Think That Word Means What The Rev. Nancy Nord Bence Thinks It Means
  • Friday:  Everyone With ELCA Hair Looks The Same

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.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Concealed carry permit holders should ask for a subcommittee to deal specifically with the issues of how police treat lawfully armed citizens.

Joe Doakes

Up until the Castile shooting, I’d have said most Minnesota cops were pretty decent around law-abiding shooters.

I suspect most are.  But as the anecdotes roll in, clearly there’s room for improvement.

So let’s improve.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Neither the Castile shooting nor the Miami shooting seem like racial incidents.  They seem like Keystone Kops incidents: running in circles, nobody in charge, contradictory commands, misinterpreted actions, improper over-reaction.  

When a mass of cops arrive at the scene, who’s in charge?  Who gives the orders?  Who decides when to shoot?  Doesn’t seem to be a consistent policy and as a result, people are getting shot.

 I can forgive an honest error in judgment.  I can’t overlook incompetence. 

 Joe Doakes

A few years (OK – a few decades) back, I read about the training involved in a hostage rescue team, including the danger involved with lots of men running around in a cramped space, high on adrenaline and guns.  The training to develop the teamwork necessary to make the team more dangerous to “the enemy” than to themselves alone was a long, drawn-out process.

Do local SWAT teams, much less patrol cops, get this?

I don’t think so, but I’m genuinely curious.

Putting On Squalid Airs

One of the aphorisms that I’ve always used to guide my life is an old Hungarian saying; “the best way to become wealthy is to appear as if you already are”.  It’s not just about money; Dennis Prager notes a similar principle when it comes to happiness.   Prager and others note that when all else fails, the best way to bring love back to a loveless relationship is to act as if you are still very much in love.  More mundane?  Innumerable business books advise young would-be up-and-comers to dress for the position they want, not the one they’re in.

Ameircan slang also renders the saying as “fake it ’til you make it”.

And it’s not bad advice; the best way out of poverty is to stop acting poor.

Unfortunately, government is spending a lot of (your) money to promote the idea that acting poor is good for you.

Along these lines, a friend of the blog writes:

Last week, before Philando Castile was shot, a friend of mine, who is black, and I were discussing racism in Minnesota. He was shaking his head, wondering why black people are told to act, dress, and talk a certain way when he sees Somalis “getting a pass.” “And they’re the ones trying to blow us up!” he says.

What would he change? Well, when he was born, his parents lived in Cabrini Green. So, he has a good perspective. He would stop building subsidized housing for black people. He would stop forcing everyone to take the bus. “I’d never let my kids on those things.” He’s told me before that he’d told his family to do whatever they need to in order to afford a car- even if it means giving up a lot of other things.

I have a feeling that many other black people feel the same way. And I think it is great that the protests are happening at the Governor’s mansion, because obviously Dayton is part of the problem in terms of what my friend would fix. But, it’s too bad that Black Lives Matter is just another activist group with no more intention of helping people than any other activist group- my friend’s message will never get heard over the special interests.

 It’s both symbolic and eminently practical; our government is trying to jam us into “high density” lifestyles, which is code (!) for “how poor people live”;  to live, work and travel crammed together like passive-aggressive sardines.

We could have literally bought 140,000 late-model used cars for $10,000 a pop for the money we spent on the Green Death Machine.  That’s more than enough to equip every impoverished family in Saint Paul with a reliable vehicle – a portal to better jobs, to school choice, to opportunity.

But no.  We spent $1.4 billion so they, and a lot of middle-class people, could be poor…on tracks.

We sent the poor people to failing schools so they can be poor…with administrators with really great pensions.

What’s wrong here?


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

There are 10,000 sworn officers employed in Minnesota.  They shoot an average of 10 people per year for the past 15 years  No police officer was charged in any of those deaths.   There are 200,000 Minnesotans with valid permits to carry a firearm.  The Violence Policy Center (a gun-control advocacy group) tracks their offenses going back to 2008.  Permit holders shoot an average of 2 people per year.   Four permit holders have been charged with crimes (two are pending).

Police shoot 1 person per 1,000 cops.  Permit holders shoot 1 person per 100,000 permit holders.  Permit holders shoot fewer people in total, and fewer people per capita, than police. Minnesota police are 100 times more likely to shoot somebody than Minnesota pistol permit holders.

 Minnesota police shooters are never charged, just like FBI shooters are never charged.  That could be because no Minnesota law enforcement officer has ever made a mistake;  it could be because of institutional bias shielding members of the law enforcement community from the consequences of their mistakes; or it could be because the law gives police officers special privileges that are denied to permit holders.

 What is the correct procedure when an officer is approaching a vehicle during a traffic stop?  Hand on pistol, just in case the driver is a threat to the officer.

 What is the correct procedure when the driver identities himself as a cop?  Most likely, the officer can take his hand off his pistol because even though the driver has a gun, that particular driver is not a threat to the officer.  If the officer wants the driver out of the car, what’s the procedure to secure a fellow officer’s gun — take it away or let him keep it?

 What is the correct procedure when the driver identifies himself as a permit holder?  Statistically, that driver is even less likely to be a threat to the officer than when the driver is a cop.  Shouldn’t the “not-a-threat-to-the-officer” procedure be similar – hand off the pistol?  If the officer wants the driver out of the car, what’s the procedure to secure a permitted carrier’s gun – take it away or let him keep it?

 If the procedures are not identical, why not?  If the statistics show permitted carriers are less likely to shoot than fellow cops, why is the procedure different?  Tribalism, loyalty to the Blue Line Clan?  Stereotyping?  That’s not a rational basis for treating safer people worse.

 If there were a rational basis for a difference in procedures, how should they differ?

 And most importantly of all, how do we inform officers and permitted carriers of the procedure, to make sure that nobody dies from mis-communication?

 Joe Doakes

It’s the second-scariest thing about carrying.

Vacuous Hipster Lives Matter

While I don’t support Black Lives’ Matter Twin Cities’ strategy or leadership, I don’t doubt for a moment that black people have every legitimate reason to protest against perceptions of excessive police violence…

…while noting that the loudest calls for more police in neighborhoods like the North Side of Minneapolis, the lower East Side of Saint Paul, and the North End come from…

…black and other minority residents, who are the main victims of crime in those neighborhoods.

I also will not pretend to be qualified to judge the violent demonstration that broke out Saturday night in Saint Paul – although Governor Flint Smith Dayton’s statements on the Castile shooting were deeply stupid.  I do think that the subtext of these protests is to try to drive everyone to one extreme or the other – to “Frame” them, in Alinskyite terms.

WIth all that out of the way?  Here’s the mug shot gallery of those arrested at the Black Lives Matter protest on Saturday:



I’m shocked – shocked, I tell you – to see that all but five of the 46 arrested were visibly annoying, Whole Foods shopping, oil-belching-Subaru driving and/or cargo-bike-up-Snelling-At-Universty-at-11PM riding, non-profit-“working”, amateur-“Professional-Protester”, Sanders-voting lilywhite hipsters.

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, of course – but then, I won’t beg forgiveness, since what are these protests but judging all humans by skin color – for and against?

There Is A NARN In North Ontario

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – is on the air! I will be on live from 1-3PM today!

  • I’ll be talking with SD51 Senate candidate Victor Lake
  • Bryan Strawser from the MN Gun Owners Caucus will join us to talk about the ghoulish reaction to the Castile and Dallas shootings

Don’t forget – King Banaian is on from 9-11AM on AM1440, and Brad Carlson has “The Closer” edition of the NARN Sundays from 2-3PM.

So tune in the Northern Alliance! You have so many options:

Join us!

Falcon Heights And Dallas

I’m going to take a moment to cite Berg’s Eighteenth Law of Media Latency:  “Nothing the media writes/says about any emotionally charged event – a mass shooting, a police shooting, anything – should be taken seriously for 48 hours after the original incident.  It will largely be rubbish, as media outlets vie to “scoop” each other even on incorrect facts.

Yesterday was a pretty crappy day for everyone – except the “let’s force everyone to one extreme or the other, for easier framing” community.

We’ll come back to that.

First, let’s talk about Falcon Heights.

On Edge:  Watch this video:

Kinda scary, huh?

Kinda makes you want to curl up in an armored coccoon, doesn’t it?

Sources in law enforcement tell me that this video is shown to most new police recruits on or about their first day of training, these days.

Not a video of a cop settling a dispute between errant neigbhors.

Not a video of a cop catching a sex trafficker (let’s assume they’re real, while we’re up).

Not one of a cop setting a young stalker straight before he seriously screws up his life.

No – the impression that police departments start their rookies off with is that “any situation you’re in, any contact you make, anything you do and anything you don’t do, can end up with you being gunned down like Old Yeller by the side of the road.  Be careful out there.

What message does this send to new cops?  “There are two kinds of people out there; people in badges, and people who might kill people in badges.  Be careful out there”.    It’s a sort of siege mentality.

We’ll come back to that.

Take a little siege mentality.  Add in what may have been really poor training; the Saint Anthony Police Department has come in for some criticism even before Wednesday’s events.

Part of that poor training, perhaps?   In carry permit training, students (of all races) are warned; handling cops if you get pulled over is one of the most dangerous parts of having a carry permit.  All cops get cautious when the “g” word comes up; some of them go way beyond (notwithstanding the fact that carry permittees are a couple orders of magnitude less likely to shoot anyone, much less a cop, than the general public).  If it turns out Castile was a carry permit holder, and he was (as his girlfriend pointed out in the video she shot from the scene) reaching for his permit as most people are taught in their carry permit training, then at least one cop needed some better training on that subject.

Was Castile the victim of racism?  Perhaps.  Although the herd consensus that there’s an epidemic of racist cops killing black people is not exactly statistically clear-cut, much less unanimous.   All shootings, including those involving the police, are complicated.

So on the one hand, you have a police force that operates from a basis of “force protection”, rather than “protecting and serving the community” – more of a military than civil concept – and a community with some serious beefs over how that works in the community, at a time when racial tensions are the highest they’ve been in fifty years (thanks, President Obama, for all that racial healing), in a state where the dominant political establishment is politically tied to both the police unions and the non-profit “social justice” sector”.

Sound like it’ll be hard to unravel?  You’re probably right.

Dallas:  And any chance of unraveling that first Gordian Knot got blown away in a fusillade of sniper fire last night in Dallas.

I can’t begin to comment; Berg’s Eighteenth Law applies to me, too.

More on the show tomorrow.

Another Shooting

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails about the story of the day:

White cop from St. Anthony department shot Black man at traffic stop on Larpenteur at Fry in Falcon Heights.  Passenger took video, protests and vigils occurring.

you might want to reiterate your policy of refusing to comment until facts are known to stop speculation on SITD.

As with all shooting stories; the first 24-48 hours of media reporting will be absolutely squalid.    I’ll be withholding most comment.

Doakes continues, speaking about the narrative from the video (which I’ll include below the jump):

Passenger says cop asked driver for his wallet, driver reached down for it and while reaching, told cop that driver had a concealed carry permit and was carrying (which they tell us in training you’re supposed to do).  Cop told driver to put his hands up, driver brought his hands back up and officer opened fire because driver was making threatening movements, possibly bringing up the gun.

I’m guessing young cop, twilight, Black guy, gun . . . yeah, that script pretty much writes itself.  Girlfriend and child in the car watched it all.

Not an accidental discharge, by the way, several shots fired.

Driver age 32, employed, no serious criminal record if he had a concealed carry permit . . . bad scene all around.

Not just employed; employed by the Saint Paul Public Schools, apparently, in a position for which (I’m informed) one needs to pass a background check.

My focus would be additional mandatory training for law enforcement and for permitted carriers: What, exactly, are permitted carriers supposed to do if stopped when carrying? Play-act it.  Drivers need to know so they don’t alarm officers, and officers need to have a standard method of handling the situation.

Joe Doakes

While I neither confirm nor deny I own or carry any firearms, I have sat through carry permit training; the most prudent course seems to be to inform the officer only when there’s a likelihood of a search – like, if you’re asked to get out of the car.    This was posited for exactly the reasons that seem likely to have occurred in this incident;   an incident that started as a fix-it ticket (apparently) escalated because a (law-abiding, black) man told the (apparently jumpy, possibly rookie) cop that he had a permit and gun in a manner that had likely been prescribed to him in his training.

We don’t know all the facts, though.

Indeed, that’s my only real answer to everything in this incident; we don’t know the facts yet.  Everything that everyone is saying is conjecture at this point.  Not pure, unadulterated conjecture; the video shot by the girlfriend an interesting wrinkle to this case (statements made while the incident is still in progress are admissable under Minnesota rules of evidence, although I’m not sure of any limitations that might apply); her story, for what it’s worth, stays very consistent through several retellings on video.

Question:  if Philando Castile was shot unjustly, was it because of paranoia over black men, or over the new plague of urban paranoia over gun owners?

Anyway, I’ll urge everyone to reserve judgment, knowing full well nobody will.

Video follows:

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