Philando Castile Should Be Alive Today
"What the fuck! What the fuck! What the fuck!”. We were four black teens in a shitty station wagon looking for a place to play basketball until we realized we were lost. All I can hear is my best friend in the backseat yelling over and over again, “What the fuck! What the fuck! What the fuck!” and the cop outside of the station wagon with his gun pointed directly at me yelling, “Don’t fucking move, roll the window down, don’t fucking move!"
We pulled up next to a parked cop car to ask him for directions. When we realized there was no one in the car, we reversed to leave, but before my friend could put the vehicle in drive, a cop jumps out of a van next to the police car with his gun pointed right at me. To this day I still feel a little guilty about the relief I felt when the cop made his way from my side to the driver side of the car and pointed the gun inches away from my friends head instead of mine.
My friend's eyes were closed, and his hands were straight up. I could see the gun inches from his temple. My friend rambled, "we're lost, we're lost, directions, directions, we just wanted directions." My friend in the back seat was still yelling. I just stared at the gun waiting for my life to change forever.
Eventually, everything was sorted out, but the whole ordeal messed me up. We were good kids who never got in any trouble. All we wanted to do was ask for directions. I couldn’t understand why the cop felt so threatened by us. I remember asking myself, If we were four white teens would he have acted the same way? I don’t know, but the fact that I have to ask that question at such an age should tell you something.
I despise race baiting. Race baiting cheapens and undermines every legitimate cry of racial injustice and breeds a sense of apathy in people who would otherwise be sympathetic to such cries but feel the discussion of race is a zero-sum game they can never win.
However, there is also a problem with some people in this country dismissing racism wholesale when it isn't overt racial slurs or crosses burning on front lawns. Covert racism is a real thing and is very dangerous. Covert racism works the same way anti-gunners use coded language to push gun control. They say common sense gun measures, but we know what they really mean. We gun advocates spend our time trying to prove to the people that they don't just want background checks they want to ban guns. The problem is, they don't come right out and say,"give me all your guns" so no one believes us, but we know the effects are incredibly real. That's what covert racism is and does.
In The case of officer Jeronimo Yanez, I don’t feel he woke up that day wanting to shoot a black person. However, I keep asking myself, would he have done the same thing if Philando were white? As I put on my Monday morning quarterback Jersey, it is my opinion that Philando Castile should be alive today. I believe there was a better way to handle the initial stop. If he suspected Philando was a suspect in a robbery, there were ways to conduct that stop in a way that would have completely avoided the shooting altogether, but Yanez neglected to do so.
Beyond that point, things get a little fuzzy for me. 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.
Legally, I'm left asking myself, was Yanez failing to conduct a proper felony stop reckless or negligent enough to warrant a Second Degree Manslaughter conviction? As a lawyer, I'm hard pressed to think so. But the young black male in me says hell yes. Admittedly, I don’t have all the facts the jury had; I didn’t hear the testimony the jury heard. Maybe after hearing his testimony they believe Yanez honestly felt his life was in danger and justifiably so. However, I have to be honest and say, he shouldn’t be able to just walk away freely without legal consequence I just don't know what that consequence should be.
I so badly wanted to keep race out of this. There are so many professional race baiters who thrive on and become rich from increasing the racial divide in this country. Because of this racial opportunism, it makes it hard to call out the more insidious elements of racism in this country vs. the isolated incidences where race doesn't play a factor. Then again, considering other examples where "race" was legitimately a factor In previous shootings, I think it would be irresponsible not to consider race as a possible motive in this shooting.
All that being said, Philando Should be alive today. In my eyes, Yanez screwed up big time. I don’t feel he was out to take a black life that day, but it doesn’t matter because his actions cost Phliando his life. 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.