Friday, June 16, 2017

Yanez "Not Guilty" of Killing Philando Castile

Jeronimo Yanez has been found not guilty on all charges for killing Philando Castile and endangering the lives of Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter. I was allowing myself to hope that the jury would find him guilty of at least the endangering charges, especially after they deliberated for almost five days.

I am imagining that one or two of the jurors were refusing to acquit (let's see... there were two African-descended people on the jury, I wonder who it could have been?), but they were worn down by the others to vote for acquittal. No way to know at this point, of course, but otherwise why would it have taken so long?

Here's the state of Twitter so far on the case, in reverse chronological order. I'll be at the protest tonight, 7:00 p.m., at the State Capitol.

Even as this has become so expected, we should never, ever lose a sense of outrage about it.
Ida Bae Wells‏ @nhannahjones

He did nothing wrong. He had a gun license. He did what the officer asked. The officer screwed up and gets NOTHING.
N. K. Jemisin

A system that perpetually condones the killing of people, without consequence, doesn't need to be revised, it needs to be dismantled!
Colin Kaepernick

When black men routinely get away w/killing cops we can talk abt need 2say Blue Lives Matter. Today that's like callin 4 white history month
Tim Wise‏

What happens to our souls when no hope is there for justice and no room is left for surprise? How any times can we do this, and not break? This system either kills us outright or it grinds us down day by day. Either way we land here. Again and again. What happens to our souls when no hope is there for justice and no room is left for surprise? How any times can we do this, and not break? We already know we need to love each other because this world doesn't love us. We don't need to be reminded, we don't need that lesson. But how do we keep believing that is enough?
jay smooth‏

On Wednesday, we were asked to come together after the congressional shooting. What do we do now that this brotha is dead and his murderer is free?

Philando Castile was murdered and apparently nobody did it.
Ashley C. Ford‏ @iSmashFizzle

How can Black people feel safe in this police state we live in?
Judith Browne Dianis‏

Let’s drop the pretenses and stop bothering to put police on trial for needlessly shooting black people. It would be more honest that way.
jelani cobb‏

serious question: what's the vetting process for cops? how are so many guys who get so scared in this difficult job?

The verdict in the Castile murder isn't proof the system is broken. It is proof that the system was built to oppress and it is working.
Mikki Kendall @Karnythia

They stopped him dozens more times for the next decade or so, until they shot him.
Gene Demby‏ @GeeDee215

Don't be fooled into believing a camera will bring justice. They turned lynchings into photo ops and postcards.
Melissa Harris-Perry‏

It is easier to blame jurors for really jacked up trial outcomes than it is to admit that injustice lives within our laws & legal processes.
T.L.‏ @talilalewis

[Philando Castile's] first [traffic] stop was for a learner's permit violation. "Three months after that first stop...his license was suspended and he went into his first spiral.... Of all of the stops, only six of them were things a police officer would notice from outside a car, things like speeding or having a broken muffler. Police stopped him on Jan. 8, 2003. They stopped him on Feb. 3 and on Feb. 12 and Feb. 26 and on March 4."
Gene Demby‏ @GeeDee215

The only thing worse than the verdict is the local news coverage of the verdict.
William Lindeke‏ @BillLindeke

Philando Castile had a permit to legally carry a gun. Philando Castile had a permit to legally carry a gun. Philando Castile had a permi-
Philip Lewis‏

Philando Castile "memorized the names of the 500 children he served every day—along with their food allergies."
Gabe Ortíz @TUSK81

"But why are so many Black people afraid of police?" Because society says they can kill us at will and not be punished.
Mikki Kendall @Karnythia

I've concluded white people are not rationally or morally capable of sitting on a jury where a police officer is the defendant.
TC‏ @tchopstl_

Yanez wasn't even found guilty of recklessly discharging a firearm - after shooting into a car with a four year old in the back seat.
The Advancement Project

there’s almost literally nothing a police officer can do to a black person that they can’t find legal justification for/get away with.
Joel D. Anderson @byjoelanderson

The criminal justice system - for a million different reasons - is not going to transform policing or hold it accountable. Ever.
Christopher Hayes

unreasonable fear cannot justify use of deadly force. unreasonable fear cannot justify use of deadly force. unreasonable fear cannot justify
andrea‏ @whtegrlinacrowd

Remember: in stand-your-ground states, everyone gets the immunity given to cops generally. (Except Black women like Marissa Alexander.)
Pat Thompson‏ @pattho

When police officers are allowed to kill (black) citizens for legally carrying a gun, what is the point of everyone carrying guns?
TC‏ @tchopstl_

Once Yanez said "I saw a gun" it was probably over. Despite all of the reason to be skeptical of that claim
Adam Miller‏ @ajm6792

We cannot claim to live in anything close to a just society if the police can kill someone for 6 seconds of alleged non-compliance
Adam Miller‏ @ajm6792
I should have known the jury wouldn't be able to convict based on the judge not allowing the prosecution to play the audio tape of Yanez's interview with the Bureau of Criminal Affairs. He allowed the transcript only, which masks Yanez's "unreasonableness." And then the judge would not let the jury have that transcript or court transcript of Yanez's testimony. The jury was clearly trying to decide if Yanez had been reasonable, and the judge deprived them of those tools.

Remember: this judge was the second one in the case. The first one was removed because of defense objections. They didn't have to give a reason, but the fact that the first judge was black (and also the second most senior judge on the county bench) is a pretty good guess for a reason.

The Yanez decision makes it clear that cops can shoot you if they think you've been smoking pot, as made clear in this Facebook post a few days ago by Robin Garwood, a legislative aide to Minneapolis City Councilmember Cam Gordon:
I obviously don't know what's going to happen, and whether there will be #justice4philando, but it's not looking good. And there's so much to write about this that I feel overwhelmed, but I want to second Carin's spot-on focus on the defense's marijuana excuse.

My dad smoked a lot of pot. For a long time he did it daily, or nearly daily. I have had a lot of friends in my life who smoke marijuana very regularly. Most of them are white. Most have faced no negative legal repercussions for their marijuana use. I have used marijuana quite a few times, though definitely not regularly anymore (mostly just because I don't actually like it very much).

The focus on whether or not Philando was high at the time of the incident is appalling. It's unreasonable, an excuse, a fig leaf, bullshit. The fact that Philando may have smoked marijuana at some point before he was killed has NOTHING TO DO with Yanez shooting seven rounds into his car within 74 seconds of the start of the traffic stop. It has nothing to do with why he was pulled over, nothing to do with Yanez's failure to deescalate the situation, nothing to do with Yanez's dangerous 'bulletproof warrior' mental state, nothing to do with Yanez's decision to kill him.

When I read the things Yanez's defense attorney has said about this bullshit "marijuana defense," it reads like Reefer Madness:

“That was a big issue of us,” Gray said. “It’s our position that the evidence will be overwhelming that (Castile and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds) had been smoking marijuana that day. … And that explains why when … officer Yanez said, ‘Don’t reach for (your gun). Don’t do it.’ … Castile reached for his gun anyway.”

Anyone who knows anything about marijuana knows how totally, appallingly, laughably full of shit this is. It's not a legal defense, it's character assassination of the victim. It's not actually about making a credible argument that having smoked marijuana at some point made Philando more likely to reach for his gun (which, by everyone's account but Yanez's, he didn't even do); it's about painting him as a criminal, a bad guy, violent, scary. It's trying to make Yanez's *totally unreasonable* fear of Philando seem defensible. It's trying to make Philando seem dangerous - when it's obvious that the only dangerous person in this situation was Jeronimo Yanez.

It's not okay.
If you're black and have been smoking pot, or if the cop thinks you've been smoking pot. And that's not even getting into being a black person with a legally registered gun. The Second Amendment was written to make slave patrols legal; it's baked in that black folks aren't supposed to have guns.

Jeronimo Yanez was clearly a good public relations officer for the city of St. Anthony. He was (is) terrible at the most important duties of a police officer, as demonstrated not just by his killing of Philando but by an earlier incident described in the May 23 podcast of 74 Seconds, created by Minnesota Public Radio. He had no business patrolling our streets with a gun in his hands.


Carl said...

It has been widely reported that neither of the two black jurors voted to convict.

Daughter Number Three said...

Yes, that was reported after I posted this and I've been quite busy since then.