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.

14 thoughts on “Perspectives

  1. My legal mind can see why they couldn’t get to Manslaughter in the Second Degree based solely on the facts at hand, but Yanez walking away from this case a free and clear man is just wrong.

    I’m firmly in Noir’s corner. I hate the result, I think Yanez didn’t handle the situation well and was very likely contributory to this result, but without other evidence than what the jury was allowed to consider I think they made the right decision. I feel for Castille’s family and friends and I hope they’re able to use the civil courts for some small amount of justice, but the hurdle for criminal conviction is higher than could be met by the evidence presented to the jurors.

  2. Assuming that Philandro Castile was driving his own car and that officer Yanez ran his license plate and received a response from the state system, Yanez should have known that Castile was a licensed carry permit holder, because, unless I am mistaken, the Hotfiles PTC indicator is right there in the response.

    Assuming that my other assumptions are correct. Yanez should have known that Castile had no felony criminal history and had been vetted for his permit, placing him in a demographic whose only rival for the lack of criminal tendencies is toddlers.

    Whether Yanez should be acquitted, however is an entirely different matter.

  3. Think of a task that is complex, but you have mastered to a significant degree that you can perform it safely, quickly, and precisely. Now, add a generous timer to that task. Say, a time that you normally complete the task ten out of ten times. But, all of a sudden, you notice that that task you once effortlessly completed, under the presence of the timer, has become much more difficult. You may even fail two or three times within even the more than generous time restraint. The reason you fail is the pressure brought about from the time restriction that made the otherwise routine task no longer routine. Since many of us are shooters, think of safely drawing, presenting, and putting a combat effective round down range – easy, peasy. Now add a two second timer – simple … or maybe not quit so simple.

    My point is: of all the mistakes made in the Falcon Heights incident, I think the single most critical was Castile’s announcement of his possession of a firearm WHILE reaching for his wallet, thus hiding his had from the officer’s view. Even though he was not legally obligated to inform the officer of his state of carry, had Castile done so before he reached for his wallet, Yanez would have been afforded all the time he needed in order to assess the situation and respond accordingly – in a much less stressful, time free circumstance. But because Castile made his announcement when he did, Yanez suddenly, and without warning, had a time restraint placed on him to assess the lethality of the circumstance as new facts were thrust at him. All of a sudden, Yanez had from that moment until Castile began to move his hand free, to decide if his life was in danger. I believe Yanez failed that assessment, compounded with his vague order to, “don’t pull it out,” but that failure was reasonable under the extreme circumstances and thus not criminal.

  4. Assuming that Philandro Castile was driving his own car and that officer Yanez ran his license plate and received a response from the state system, Yanez should have known that Castile was a licensed carry permit holder, because, unless I am mistaken, the Hotfiles PTC indicator is right there in the response.

    That is incorrect. Carry permit data is not on the driver records database. Cops can verify permits via disipatch (dispatch has access to the permittees database).

    Cops as a rule assume everyone is armed. That’s why they approach cars the way they do, even for routine stops.

  5. I don’t know who owned the car, but Castile was not driving. His girlfriend was driving. He was in the passenger seat.

  6. Mitch,

    When an officer runs a plate query through the mobile computer in the squad, the message goes to their local agency then is sent through the Criminal Justice Network to the BCA’s Law Enforcement Message Switch (LEMS) from there, the message is forwarded to the DMV and a message is returned to the BCA with the owners name and DOB, that information is picked off the message and forked to the BCA’s Hotfiles, MN Crinimal History and NCIC.

    All of that data is bundled back to the squad and should be presented to the officer by the software on his end. The Permit Tracking System indicator comes from the Hotfiles….

  7. Bill C,
    I do not think that is correct. From the phone video, it looks like the woman is in the driver’s seat but the image is reversed. From the dash cam video, the officer is leaning into the driver’s window…which means that he would be shooting over Philandro’s girlfriend.

    I could be wrong on all of this, but that is my impression.

  8. Not to hammer on the point, because I do not know what transactions were run or what data was presented to officer Yanez on his computer, but here is a service description of the standard query vehicle transaction from the BCA. On this description, the Hotfiles query is referenced but the PTS indicator is not mentioned. I do believe it is included though…but I could be wrong.

    Note: this is all public data and should be no mystery.

  9. If you look at the video–ugh–you can see the steering wheel in front of Castile. He was almost certainly driving.

    To the topic, if indeed French is correct, we would conclude that a standard protocol would likely have kept Castile breathing.

  10. I’m not so sure, my thoughts go to the point that it appears he stopped the car for a equipment violation (some thought it was stolen car?), if his concerns were such that a violent confrontation was possible he could have stepped away and asked for back-up (power in numbers). The urgency of the confrontation right or wrong was totally avoidable in my opinion.

  11. SH, consider what Orin Kerr has to say on the issue of pretextual stops:

    […]The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the police can use traffic stops pretextually. What the officer is really trying to do doesn’t matter, the court has ruled, as long as the officer has a valid basis for stopping a car for a traffic violation. The reason is that Fourth Amendment doctrine rejects subjective intent as a basis for determining whether a stop is lawful. So long as the officer had a valid basis for a stop (speeding 55 in a 50 zone), the fact that the officer is really acting for other reasons (determining if there are drugs in the car) is irrelevant.

    This is hugely important because almost every driver routinely violates the traffic laws. It’s actually hard to drive without breaking the traffic code, and doing so can lead other drivers to honk and yell at you as you creep slowly along in traffic. Allowing pretextual stops gives the police lots of power to stop people for non-traffic reasons. And as a lot of people know, especially in minority communities, that power can be abused.

    In short, that kind of power is dangerous in that it can corrupt and warp the judgement of an officer. Yanez was using that power to initiate a situation that, frankly, he wasn’t capable of handling correctly. His judgement and experience failed all involved in the situation.

    But who knows, technology may provide a solution. Imagine just how much power police will lose when driverless cars become ubiquitous. No more “taillight out” stops, no more “weaving across the road” stops, etc. Police might actually have to go back to actual 4th Amendment procedures and get warrants! Heaven forbid the day! I hate the idea of driverless cars but I do think it will have huge and positive effects on how the police actually have to relate to their communities.

  12. Yanez had radioed another car that he was going to stop him for a look as a robbery suspect, before he even saw the brake lights. I wonder what his pretext would have been had the brake light issue not been present? Perhaps the “I couldn’t see that your seat belts were in use.”

  13. In general, I can’t stand David French. His collection of beliefs are pretty counter productive for for the times we are in.

  14. From my perspective, Officer Yanez was exhibiting signs of inadequate training.
    He was issuing contradictory orders. His first response should have been to either secure the gun or have Pilando Castile place it on the dash board.
    He had the drop on Philando Castile. Even if Mr. Castile were reaching for his gun, Officer Yanez had more than enough time to be sure that Mr. Castile was indeed producing a gun before shooting. Officer Yanez panicked and, when he panicked, he had no training to to take over his behavior.
    In the face of conflicting orders, Mr. Castile should have froze and asked which order to comply with. Again, we don’t train concealed carry holders for these situations.
    I have a radical suggestion: Have local police departments train with concealed carry classes to work out mutual procedures for situations like this and gain experience.

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