Monday, June 19, 2017

Apologies to Philando Castile

Since Friday, after what was clearly one of the worst jury decisions in our lifetime, a decision which found Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty of second degree manslaughter, a lot of head scratching is still going on.  Yanez was, and still is, guilty of second degree manslaughter, when, during a routine traffic stop, he unjustifiably shot wildly into Philando Castile's car, after Castile himself informed him he had a weapon on him.  Castile didn't threaten anyone with the weapon, a gun he had a legal carry and conceal license for, but that didn't stop Yanez from shooting him in the heart, coming millimeters from shooting Castile's girlfriend, and a few inches from shooting a four year old in the back seat.  The Not Guilty verdict on manslaughter is a crime itself, but the Not Guilty verdicts on the reckless discharge of a firearm charges are mind numbing.

Yanez, during the trial, insisted he saw a weapon, something neither his partner nor anyone else corroborated.  Yanez himself discredited his defense, in the immediate aftermath of the murder and during the interview the very next day, when he stated, bluntly, he never saw a weapon.

I do not care!  Regardless of what the stacked system and stacked jury said, Yanez is clearly guilty on all three counts.

There are a lot of apologies which need to happen.  Let me point them out:

Apology #1 - The failure of Police Departments' hiring practices and screening processes.  Given the Yanez verdict, it's clear Police Officers are legally able to commit murder.  This demands the screening process to determine who does and who does not become a police officer be stringent, with extremely high standards.  The current process doesn't even come close, with limited or no phycological screening required in some hires.  Racists are hired as cops, mentally unstable people are hired as cops, and individuals who lack the fortitude and composure to handle a MILDLY stressful situation are hired as cops.  Yanez, in my opinion, would've failed an evaluation on all three of those levels.

Apology #2 - Failed Police Officer training and routine mental screening.  When did police officers approaching an unarmed man start targeting the head and heart?  You know why you don't do that?  So you don't unintentionally murder an innocent man!!!  Police Departments should teach offers to take a non lethal shot to disable a suspect, IF NEEDED, not kill them and sort it out their stories before the trial.  Specifically in the Castile case, any training Yanez had in regards to dealing with an individual who has a legal weapon escaped his thought process that day.  This is why officers should be routinely tested and evaluated to make sure the training they've received is not immediately forgotten by a sub par officer at a routine traffic stop.  If an officer fails a training test or a routine phycological evaluation, they should be given desk duty, and their weapon removed, until the situation can be rectified.

Apology #3 - Jeronimo Yanez.  Yanez, in my opinion, is a murderer, a man who killed Castile because he was black.  The reason Yanez pulled him over was because he was black.  The reason he frantically started to shoot into the car was because he was black.  Castile was never threatening Yanez.  A man with honor and integrity would've admitted his mistake and taken the punishment accordingly.  Instead, Yanez was a coward, hiding behind a lie he himself contradicted.  There's no decency in Officer Yanez, and he owes Castile and his family an apology.  Instead, he's already made up a fictitious serious of events to make him far more noble than he EVER was.

Apology #4 - The Ramsey County Prosecutor.  There are many things the prosecution did during this trial which make the notion they were on Castile's side laughable, but I'll focus on three.  The first is the jury, a jury which was purposely stacked with pro-police stooges who had made up their minds before the trial began.  There were multiple jurors who should've been easily disqualified, but were allowed to be seated for the trial.  The second, was the decision to not introduce what was CLEARLY the most damning evidence against Yanez, his numerous admissions early on in the investigation he never saw Castile's gun.  That is jaw-dropingly unforgivable.  It would've torpedoed Yanez' defense before hand, so by not introducing that nugget, you let Yanez' team create the narrative of a noble cop killing a back man because he was scared.  The third thing is your reaction to the verdict.  You seem to be high-fiving more than Yanez' family.

Apology #5 - The Jury.  I know some people would find me including them to be out of line, but it's apparent enough of the jury themselves were out of line.  Multiple members of the jury went into this process with the goal of making sure a police officer was never found guilty for shooting a black man.  We know one person lied to get onto the jury, and we also know that same person had a private business relationship with a different police department.  How does the Prosector and Judge not immediately negate her from the jury?  Multiple jurors had implied they'd have a hard time finding a police officer guilty of a crime, but were included on the jury!  At the end, the biased members of the jury clearly ganged up on the two rational holdouts, forcing them to switch their votes.  And how the hell do you not at least convict him of the two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm when Yanez displayed a textbook example of reckless discharge of a firearm?  I won't give any member of that jury an out.  In the end, they all voted for one of the worst verdicts EVER!

Apology #6 - The Judge.  William Leary is responsible for some very pro Yanez behavior during this trial.  The aforementioned inclusion of ringers on the jury, the refusal to allow the prosecutor to bring in Yanez' own initial testimony which would've effectively contradicted Yanez' defense, the refusal to allow the jury to rehear the testimony of Yanez from the trial, and the near forcing the jury to make up their minds one way or another, all hint at a judicial ulterior motive which has caused even more valid distrust and skepticism of the legal system.

Apology #7 - The Police Union.  Not only did they rally around a man they themselves should've thrown to the wolves, they're now working with Yanez to give him the advice he needs to make sure the Castile family can't even collect on a civil trial verdict, a verdict which will undoubtedly find Yanez guilty.  Their financial trickery allows for the maximum suffrage. "Not only did our officer wrongly kill your family member, but we're going to make sure their finances are so hidden, you'll NEVER get a damn dime for pain and suffering!  IN YOUR FACE, VICTIM'S FAMILY!!!"

Apology #8 - The NRA.  Where are you guys?  The same organization which spent the last eight years riling up their members with straw-man, fake gun persecution arguments all the sudden became silent when a person was killed solely for mentioning to the police officer they had a legal carry and conceal weapon.  THIS was the case which proved all of their delusional paranoid fears, but yet they shied away from it.  Even the Yanez' defense was based on something the NRA should've ben livid about; the fear of the handle of the gun.  The same organization who encouraged it's kook members to walk around a Target store with a loaded semi-automatic weapon on their back, insisting it was wrong to look at the gun in a negative light, didn't say a peep when Yanez insisted seeing the handle of a pistol was grounds for an instantaneous death sentence.  Castile should have been the poster child for the NRA's fight against 2nd Amendment discrimination, but because he was black, they said nothing.

Apology #9 - One from non-African American Society.  We have societal and systemic racism towards African Americans woven into our culture.  It's an evil virus which has poisoned our humanity and health.  Why was Castile pulled over?  He was black.  Why did Yanez, AND EVERYONE ELSE, ignore Castile's attempt to inform the officer calmly of the weapon?  Because he was black.  Why are we okay with the thought of a panicking reckless officer nearly shooting an innocent passenger and a 4 year old kid in the back seat?  Because they were black?  Why was there such an attempt to character assassinate Castile in the months after he was murdered?  To convince white America that all black people deserve getting shot, regardless of the circumstance.  Why did they insist a non-violent man was on the verge of becoming violent?  Because it excused the unjustifiable actions of a police officer.  The end game has been achieved:  Castile was shot because he was black, Yanez was found not guilty because Castile was black, and white America shrugs its shoulders and moves on.

This is sad.  An under-trained, inferior police officer who should've NEVER been hired, stopped a car because of a broken tail light, and because the driver was black, administered an instantaneous death sentence because they were afraid something completely fictional MIGHT happen, had a biased judge, prosecutor and jury throw reality to the wind to ensure a guilty man's innocence, and not even the main advocacy organization for his cause would back him up.

I'm sorry to Castile, and to his family, and to the African American population.  This verdict was disgusting and should've never happened, but as long as a system is in place which makes sure police officers can legally murder someone, especially someone of color, nothing is going to change.

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