Philando Castile Verdict – Not a Victory for Law Enforcement

It’s a topic that continues to rouse debate and rancor. Today Old Man hernandez weighs in on it. Mad Duo

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Philando Castile Verdict – Not a Victory for Law Enforcement

Chris Hernandez

When Philando Castile was killed by police officer Jeronimo Yanez last year, I didn’t immediately speak out. I watched the video Castile’s girlfriend live-streamed, and understood it was highly inflammatory but didn’t show the actual shooting or what sparked it. Yanez’s near-panicked response after the shooting caught my attention, but I knew better than to make judgments based on public outrage or gut feeling. So I held off.

Last week Yanez was found not guilty of manslaughter in Castile’s death. I again held my tongue, and even argued online that I couldn’t give an informed opinion because I had no idea what the jury saw or heard that could have justified their decision. So I waited for the information I knew would soon come out.

Aside from not knowing the facts, I’m also biased against public outrage toward cops. I’ve been a cop 23 years and know that the media often portrays police incidents inaccurately. I’ve seen news stories about incidents I was involved in that distorted facts, and I’ve been misquoted and misidentified by a journalist (she identified me as “Officer Chris Martinez”). I’ve studied alleged incidents of racist cops murdering innocent black men for no reason, and almost every one was deliberately twisted to serve a narrative. I believe that in principle a cop should use as much force as necessary as soon as necessary, and I understand the grey areas we work in where force isn’t a math equation and doesn’t work the way Average Joe thinks it does.

After the Ferguson outrage I wrote an article explaining why the shooting of Michael Brown was justified, and the investigation showed it was in fact justified. I wrote an article explaining why the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge was justified, and that investigation also showed  it was a good shooting. In another article I showed that the shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland, although tragic and understandably infuriating, was understandable based on what the officers reasonably believed at the time.

In another article I wrote that although the arrest of Eric Garner was petty and unnecessary, there was no reason to believe the officers involved had any intent to kill anyone. On the other hand I also wrote an article calling for the prosecution of a California officer for an incredibly stupid shooting; even though that one was bad, I know such incidents are exceedingly rare. So I had good reason to believe the evidence would show Yanez was justified in shooting Castile.

Much information has now come out. While I’m sure I don’t have all of it, I have enough to understand the dynamics of the shooting, the realities that couldn’t have been known until afterward, and the facts as Yanez understood them when he pulled the trigger. I understand the shooting well enough to determine what I would have done had I been there, and compare Yanez’s actions to what I did in similar situations.

And I’ve decided there is no way this shooting was justified.

The Dynamics of the Shooting:

On July 6th, 2016, St. Anthony, Minnesota PD Officer Jeronimo Yanez saw Philando Castile driving with his girlfriend. The girlfriend’s daughter was in the back seat. Yanez thought Castile resembled one of two suspects in a recent robbery; before the stop, he radioed that “The driver looks more like one of our suspects just ’cause of the wide-set nose,” and later said Castile gave him a “deer in the headlights look” as they passed each other. He stopped Castile for a defective brake light, then he and his partner approached the vehicle in a normal, non-high risk manner.

Yanez told Castile the reason for the traffic stop. Castile was polite and cooperative. The rest of the stop went like this:

“Yanez asks for Castile’s driver’s license and insurance. [This transcript doesn’t note it, but Castile gave Yanez his insurance card but not his license.]

Thirty seconds into the conversation, Castile begins to tell Yanez that he has a weapon.

Castile: Sir, I have to tell you I do have a …

Yanez: OK.

Castile: … firearm on me.

Yanez: OK

Castile: I (inaudible)

Yanez: Don’t reach for it then.

Castile: I’m, I, I was reaching for …

Yanez: Don’t pull it out.

Castile: I’m not pulling it out.

Reynolds [Castile’s girlfriend]: He’s not.

Yanez: Don’t pull it out.

Yanez, whose hand had been near his gun, pulls out his weapon and fires seven rapid shots into the car, striking Castile five times.”

The dash camera video shows that the elapsed time from first word spoken by Yanez to the last shot was forty seconds. Yanez fired his first shot eight seconds after Castile notified him he was armed.

Castile lost consciousness as his girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting, and died shortly afterward.

What Yanez Couldn’t Have Known At The Time

Castile was carrying a .40 caliber pistol in his right front pocket. The magazine was loaded, chamber empty. His carry permit and license were in his wallet.

Castile’s pistol. Photo credit TwinCities.com.

Castile had no history of violence or criminal history worse than traffic offenses, and no connection to the robbery Yanez thought he might have been involved in. He was on his way back home from a grocery store when he was stopped, and wasn’t committing any crime save two: his license was suspended, and he had a small bag of marijuana in the car. The marijuana is significant, for reasons I’ll explain later.

Marijuana in Castile’s back seat. TwinCities.com photo.

What Yanez Perceived.

Yanez fired because he thought Castile was reaching for his weapon. After the shooting another officer questioned Yanez about why he fired, and Yanez said he saw Castile “reaching down between his right leg, his right thigh area and the center console.” He went on to say,

“I, believe I continued to tell him don’t do it or don’t reach for it and he still continued to move. And, it appeared to me that be had no regard to what I was saying. He didn’t care what I was saying. He still reached down… And, at that point I, was scared and I was, in fear for my life and my partner’s life. And for the little girl in the back and the front seat passenger and he dropped his hand down and, can’t remember what I was telling him but I was telling something as his hand went down I think. And, he put his hand around something. And his hand made like a C shape type, um, type shape and it appeared to me that he was wrapping something around his fingers and almost like if I were to put my, uh, hand around my gun like putting my hand up to the butt of the gun…”

Later in the interview he said Castile’s hand looked like it was “wrapped around the butt of a gun…I just knew it was dark and I could barely see and I thought it was a firearm and I thought he was gonna shoot and kill me and I thought he was gonna shoot and kill my partner right after that.”

So I’ll List All the Reasons I Think This Shooting was Wrong

1) Background.

After a criminal like Alton Sterling is killed by police, we hear his friends and family claim he was a wonderful soul who’d never hurt anyone. We’re absolutely right to dismiss those claims; family and friends can ALWAYS be expected to defend a loved one, no matter what. But Philando Castile, by the officer’s account, the dash cam video and his criminal history, was not a “criminal.”

Some people will undoubtedly argue that point by saying “He was driving on a suspended license and had drugs in the car.” My response is, “So what?” Plenty of people who aren’t criminals have suspended licenses. Anyone down on their luck can let their insurance lapse, which can then lead to a ticket they can’t pay, which then leads to a suspended license. A suspension can mean a drunk driving or drug arrest, but not always. And he had a personal use amount of marijuana in the car, not a kilo. If smoking marijuana makes people criminals, a lot of service members, regular working people and even cops are or were criminals.

According to Heavy.com, Castile had received 55 tickets and been arrested twice for minor drug offenses. There were no drunk driving charges, and both drug charges were dismissed. Castile wasn’t a bad, dangerous criminal. As far as I can tell, there is no indication whatsoever that Castile was actually drawing on Yanez; Castile’s background, character, and dozens of previous stops without resistance don’t suggest he would have.

2) Context.

When Yanez walked up to Castile’s car and began the stop, he encountered a polite, cooperative, noncriminal driver with what appeared to be his wife and daughter during daylight hours. Nothing in the context of the stop indicated Castile was a threat. If you counter with “But Yanez thought Castile was a robbery suspect,” Yanez’s own actions disprove that. He didn’t conduct a felony stop like we would if we were stopping a dangerous felony suspect, he conducted a regular stop and approached in a casual manner. Yanez said he thought Castile was drawing on him, and I don’t see anything in the context of the stop to make that a reasonable assumption.

If you chase a murder suspect into a dark alley at 2 a.m. and he stops, turns around, says “I’m gonna kill you, pig” and reaches under his shirt, shoot. I’ll cheer for you and back you up 100%. But if you stop a regular, polite family guy who hasn’t committed any crime you’re aware of, who informs you he’s carrying and reaches toward his waist after you’ve told him to get his license, give him the benefit of the doubt. React as necessary, draw if you have to, take cover behind the pillar or whatever, but I’d highly discourage you from escalating to lethal force just based on him “reaching.”

And again, the pistol was carried with an empty chamber. Seriously, should we think this calm, cooperative, noncriminal driver with no history of violence and his girlfriend and a little girl in the car was going to pull his empty-chamber pistol from his pocket, load a round and shoot the officer?

3) Instructions.

Castile had a reason to reach for something: Yanez asked him for his license and insurance, he had only given Yanez his insurance and still had to give Yanez his license.

Philando Castile’s car insurance card. TwinCities.com photo.

After Castile told Yanez he was armed, Yanez told him “Don’t reach for it.” He didn’t say “Hands up,” “Hands on the steering wheel,” or “Freeze.” He simply told Castile not to reach for his gun, and a reasonable person who’s just been ordered to hand over his license but not touch his gun would think it was okay to grab his wallet. I can almost guarantee when Castile said “I’m not reaching for it,” he really wasn’t and was simply reaching for his license.

On any stop, it is not the driver’s job to figure out what we mean, it’s our job to give clear, easily-understandable instructions. Yanez didn’t do that.

4) Location of the gun.

Yanez said Castile reached between his right leg and the console. That’s not where the gun was. Two police officers said they saw the gun hanging out of Castile’s right pocket when he was loaded onto a gurney, one paramedic said he saw it slide out of Castile’s right pocket onto the street, and another said he saw an officer reach into Castile’s right pocket and recover it; whatever the exact circumstances of the gun’s recovery, everyone agrees the gun was in his right pocket.

Yanez said at one point that he saw the gun’s barrel, then said he misspoke and saw the gun’s slide, but at the scene he told a supervisor he never saw the gun and Castile never told him where it was. Since we know the gun was in Castile’s pocket after he was shot, should we believe Castile drew it far enough for Yanez to see the slide, then in the few seconds between being shot and losing consciousness put it back in far enough that it didn’t come out until he was pulled from the car and laid on the street?

Besides that, I’ve pocket carried quite a bit. One of the drawbacks of pocket carry is that it’s hard as hell to draw when seated. Maybe it’s easier if you’re wearing really baggy shorts, and maybe Castile was wearing baggy shorts. But in my experience, drawing from your right pocket while seated in a car requires you to lift your hips and rotate them left to get your pocket clear of the seat belt. Nothing on the video or in anyone’s testimony suggests Castile raised or rotated his hips to get access to his weapon.

5) “I was scared because I smelled marijuana.” Gimme a f**king break.

Yanez said this about the odor of marijuana that was present in the car. It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever heard a cop claim:

“As that was happening as [Castile] was pulling at, out his hand I thought, I was gonna die and I thought if he’s, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five year old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me. And, I let off the rounds and then after the rounds were off, the little girl was screaming.”

Marijuana doesn’t make people homicidally violent, and tends to produce the exact opposite effect. If Yanez had walked up and seen the dark glass vials associated with PCP or smelled the strong chemical scent of meth, yes I can see why he’d tense up. I would too. A smell of marijuana might mean you’re about to have a fight on your hands because the driver doesn’t want to go to jail, but it doesn’t mean someone high on marijuana is somehow more dangerous.

I’ve never seen or heard of any studies indicating marijuana makes people violent, and my experience on the street from just about day one led me to believe drunks are way more violent than potheads. All else being equal I’d prefer to deal with a pothead over a drunk any day of the week, and I suspect most cops with street experience feel the same way. I’ve walked up on numerous cars that reeked of marijuana, and personally can’t remember ever getting scared of the driver’s “audacity.” Someone exposing a child to secondhand pot smoke shouldn’t equal “This guy is about to kill me.”

Recently I worked a large public event where cops and families were present, and some people in the crowd were smoking marijuana. Those people had the audacity to smoke around cops and children, but none of them went crazy and started murdering people. Yanez’s statement about how dangerous Castile was because he was smoking marijuana (at some point, we don’t know exactly when) is so incredibly stupid I almost can’t believe he said it.

I strongly suspect Yanez made that statement solely as justification for the shooting, and doesn’t really believe it. His attorney argued that Castile was high and therefore couldn’t follow directions, but I call shenanigans on both those claims. Pot doesn’t make you a homicidal maniac and Castile was following directions, as I explained earlier.

More than photography and videography. Check it out and see just WTF we mean by that.

Put all that together:

A calm peaceful driver legally carrying a pistol who didn’t do anything violent or dangerous politely told an officer he was armed and followed the officer’s instructions to get his wallet but was then shot because the officer thought he was reaching for a gun in a place where the gun actually wasn’t because the officer smelled marijuana and thought it meant the driver was homicidally dangerous. Does that make sense to anyone?

Does it make sense that Yanez would fire seven times at almost contact range and miss twice, putting one round sixteen inches away from the little girl he thought he had to protect from secondhand pot smoke?

Am I missing something here?

Yanez’s acquittal wasn’t a victory for law enforcement, it was a defeat. It was a message that cops can be expected to panic over nothing, to shoot upon the slightest provocation, and get a pass if they make the most ridiculous, flimsiest excuses for being “in fear.” It was a message to the public to expect less, not more, courage, dedication and bravery from cops. The not guilty verdict wasn’t something to cheer, and I can’t understand the pro-LE web sites saying it proves the shooting was justified or complaining about Yanez being fired.

Those who protest that Castile’s girlfriend lied about officers not providing first aid or showed callousness by live-streaming instead of helping him are off the mark. Her actions afterward aren’t the issue. What matters here are Castile’s and Yanez’s actions from the first contact until the last shot was fired. As far as I can tell Castile did literally nothing wrong, but Yanez panicked over nothing and killed an innocent man. For the record, I think Yanez honestly believed he was in danger. I think he honestly panicked. That doesn’t mean he was right to believe he was in danger, and it doesn’t make his panic understandable. Cops are trained, expected and paid to operate at a higher standard than irrational panic. We owe it to the public to hold ourselves to that higher standard.

If you’re a cop you may want to take a hard look at this shooting, understand why so many people are understandably angry about it, and work at both the policy and personal levels to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Philando Castile, Rest In Peace.

-CH


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breachbangclear.com_site_images_Chris_Hernandez_Author_BreachBangClear4About the Author: Chris Hernandez, seen here on patrol in Afghanistan, may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-ClearHe is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.

Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog.


Chris Hernandez has 107 posts and counting. See all posts by Chris Hernandez

85 thoughts on “Philando Castile Verdict – Not a Victory for Law Enforcement

  • July 10, 2017 at 9:39 am
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    The actions of blue gods with magic badges should never be questioned.

  • July 2, 2017 at 12:50 pm
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    MN Resident, I took that same training but it strikes me as inadequate. “Tell the officer you have a weapon and ask how he wants to handle it” is another way of saying “The officer will make up something on the side of the road and if you fail to comply, you die.” Larpenteur is a busy 4-lane street with truck traffic going by the officer; can the hear the driver clearly? There’s an angry woman in the car and a crying kid; can the driver hear the officer clearly? Even if they can hear each other, how does the driver interpret “Give me your license but don’t reach for your gun” when they’re both in the same pocket? The driver should have more sense? But the driver’s not in control of the encounter, the officer is. The driver is following instructions and it got him killed. Seems to me there should be a standard protocol for Encounters with Lawfully Armed Citizens, approved by POST, adopted in every agency, role-played by every cop and permitted carrier. Like this one: http://www.shotinthedark.info/wp/?p=63559

  • June 30, 2017 at 6:11 pm
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    Last year, I took a class in self defense law given by a lawyer who specializes in use of force. Much of his practice is representing police officers. The class included two examples in which innocent people were shot. In one case, the shooters were police officers. In the other, it was a private citizen. The common factor in both was that each side jumped to an incorrect conclusion about the other and misconstrued the other’s subsequent actions as confirmation of the initial error. The Yanez/Castile incident looks like more of the same. They will continue until both sides ask themselves, “Can my instruction/question/action reasonably be misconstrued by the other person?” and then take steps to prevent that from happening.

    • Mad Duo Chris
      July 2, 2017 at 1:46 pm
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      One thing that really bugs me is the often-repeated insistence that Castile “should have known not to reach for anything.” It’s not the driver’s job to divine the officer’s meaning, it’s his job to follow clear instructions. Yanez didn’t give give clear instructions, and there’s nothing crazy about a driver carrying with a permit reaching for his license and not his gun.

      Thanks for your input, and stay safe. For future reference, if you get stopped I’d suggest just leaving your hands on the wheel until you inform the officer you’re carrying and where you’re carrying, then asking for instructions.

  • June 30, 2017 at 10:18 am
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    Great analysis. Terrible shoot. Yanez should have been convicted. In Colorado we have no duty to inform LEO we are carrying with our CCW. After this shooting I no longer volunteer that information. I had thought it was better to inform and put the LEO at ease. I’m actually a good citizen. Yanez is a case in point, some LEO’S shouldn’t have a badge.

  • June 29, 2017 at 7:12 pm
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    “The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.”

    Mr. Hernandez, that quote is from a little case I know for a fact you have encountered in your career. Graham v. Conner is the standard, sir. Looking at this incident with that standard in mind, based upon the totality of the facts and circumstances known to him at the time, Officer Yanez’s actions were objectively reasonable.

    So while you personally might feel, after a careful review of facts not known to Officer Yanez at the time and after applying your ideas on how a pretextual stop of a possible robbery suspect should be conducted, and your very own subjective beliefs regarding the effects of marijuana, and your very own imaginings regarding the thought process, motivations and intentions of Mr. Castile, that he did not conduct this stop the exact same way an all knowing Officer Hernandez might have, the fact remains that Officer Yanez’s actions remain objectively reasonable, sir.

    It’s stunning to me that an officer of your experience could come to a different conclusion.

    • June 29, 2017 at 8:47 pm
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      Spot on,,,,

      • July 3, 2017 at 1:44 pm
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        Jack, you are f-ing high! “The reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” A civilian would be going to jail for the exact actions this “scared” officer took. I hope karma visits that officer sooner than later.

    • Mad Duo Chris
      June 30, 2017 at 10:42 am
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      SC Trooper Sean Groubert shot an unarmed driver in 2014 because he thought the driver was reaching for a weapon. Groubert judged that he had to shoot, based on what he “reasonably” perceived as aggressive action by the driver. Was he justified in shooting an unarmed man, solely because he perceived a threat?

      In a larger context, does any use of force by a police officer become reasonable simply because he thinks he’s under threat? If so, then Groubert should never have been charged or convicted.

      • June 30, 2017 at 11:32 am
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        Mr. Hernandez, are you asking me to explain Graham v. Conner to you? You have been doing this almost as long as I have, do you honestly not understand that particular case law? Or are you trying to make it seem as if I said something that I did not, and throwing in an unrelated OIS to cloud the issue?

        You ask is any use of force reasonable simply because a police officer thinks he’s under threat? Of course not sir, and that’s not what the Supreme Court established as the reasonableness standard in that case, as I have no doubt you are very well aware.

        If you want to have a separate discussion about the Trooper Groubert OIS, we could do that. It might be interesting. But it really has nothing to do with this particular discussion.

        • Mad Duo Chris
          June 30, 2017 at 12:02 pm
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          Yes it does. The Groubert shooting shows an officer can resort to deadly force against a perceived threat and still be unreasonable and unlawful. Everyone seems to agree that Castile wasn’t really drawing on Yanez, so the question is whether or not Yanez mistakenly but reasonably believed he was being drawn on. I say no, due to the reasons I’ve already listed. Simply claiming “I was in fear for my life” doesn’t make that fear reasonable.

          • June 30, 2017 at 4:09 pm
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            It relates to this only in the context that both OIS featured white officers shooting unarmed, black drivers following traffic stops. It’s not relevant in determining whether OFC Yanez’s actions were reasonable or unreasonable.

            You are right, simply saying, “I was in fear for my life,” doesn’t make that fear reasonable. Nowhere have I said that is the standard of reasonableness defined in Graham v. Conner. The standard is, would a reasonable officer in the same circumstances acted the same way as Officer Yanez?

            In your case, obviously, the answer to that question is “no.” The problem is, sir, that you base your determination on the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, not on the fact that Officer Yanaez had to make a split-second judgment in a circumstance that was tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving.

            You have the luxury of nit picking the situation apart at your leisure, applying your own logic and belief system, and then judging Officer Yanez by your own standards of what constitutes a reasonable use of force. However, in this country we don’t determine reasonableness based on the Hernadez Standard.

          • Mad Duo Chris
            June 30, 2017 at 6:16 pm
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            The incident did not happen that fast, and it wasn’t tense, uncertain or rapidly evolving. It was a polite, cooperative driver likely reaching for a wallet after being asked for his license, and likely following orders to not reach for a gun.

  • June 29, 2017 at 6:59 pm
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    Mr Hernandez,

    Would it be fair to say, that officer Yanez is too excitable to be a public safety officer?

    • Mad Duo Chris
      July 2, 2017 at 1:48 pm
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      I’d think so, based on this single incident. I don’t know if it was a fluke or a normal occurrence with Yanez though.

  • June 29, 2017 at 9:17 am
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    Hey Chris, thanks for responding to the rebuttal article I wrote. Figured I’d reply here instead of on my own article as this thread seems to be where most of the conversation is taking place.

    Perhaps I did overstep in saying Castile was high at the time of the shooting. I don’t suppose there’s any way at this point to prove that he was or wasn’t. Given that there was marijuana in the car, and Yanez smelled burnt marijuana when the window was rolled down, and he said Castile wasn’t making eye contact and was directing his words away from Yanez face, and that his girlfriend had prior Facebook live videos that show her smoking while the child is in the car, my guess is that they were both high at the time. That’s just an educated guess based on all the circumstances, not air tight proof that he was high, so I’ll concede that point.

    Regardless, the point was that Castile had plenty of motive to try to get away if he had any inclination to do so, which I don’t think he did but who knows that’s just another thing we have to guess on.

    If Castile didn’t match the description of the robbery suspect and Yanez didn’t smell marijuana and Castile was making solid eye contact during the stop perhaps Yanez wouldn’t have felt so threatened even if Castile had continued reaching after Yanez said “don’t reach for it”. But with the totality of the circumstances I still don’t think the shooting was unreasonable. I guess I can understand why you may disagree, but I’m glad that you agree that there was reasonable doubt that Yanez was guilty.

    Certainly a tragic situation for all involved, and I know that I will be more specific in my instructions to citizens going forward, so at least something was learned from it.

    Thanks for the chat brother, stay safe out there.

    • June 29, 2017 at 11:00 am
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      Just curious, how much more specific do you have to be than ” don’t reach for it, Don’t pull it out” 3 x total?

      • June 29, 2017 at 7:05 pm
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        This is easy…..”Don’t reach for it.” Mr. Castile said, “I am not.” Which he trying to get his DL. Castile erroneously believed the officer was good with his hands moving when getting his DL. Sometimes it takes a few seconds for a brain to interpret commands, when accents, and different jargon is involved. Be safe out there.

        • June 29, 2017 at 8:49 pm
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          And exactly how do you know what Castile believed? And youre 100%, bet your life certain he wasn’t reaching for his gun?

    • Mad Duo Chris
      June 30, 2017 at 10:45 am
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      You stay safe too, and take care. I’ll check out your blog more often.

      • July 3, 2017 at 1:50 pm
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        He wasn’t and the civilian lost his life on the officers bet! I am SICK and tired of cops getting away with murder and/or negligent homicide. The cop should find another career and all of you jumpy cops out there, as a minimum get rid of your glocks. This lawyer-eze some of you are spouting is typical for illegal shoots. The officer is guilty of negligent homicide as a minimum.

  • June 29, 2017 at 8:46 am
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    I am a cop, in Minnesota in the metro where this occurred. A few things that need to be emphasized that lead up to this. The armed robbery suspect looked like Castile, Similar in age, long dread locked hair pulled and a thin beard along the chin line. The robbery happened just over a mile away from where this traffic stop occurred a few days before their encounter. The St. Anthony Police Dept was the investigating agency as well. We have all passed someone in cars going the opposite directions and think to ourselves “was that someone we know”. Yanzez thought the same thing. Wanting to ID the driver of the vehicle to see if it may be the suspect, Yanez turned around in a four lane road. When doing this he called out on the radio that he was going to stop the car for he thought it may be the suspect. Not wanting to get into an accident when turning around on a road like this we have all called out something on the radio that came out partial. In pursuit drivers training we even prepare for this type of situation, when performing basic maneuvers we are asked to recite something such as the alphabet, sport teams or types of soft drinks. Its amazing how even simple things while driving the car become complex and we can make mistakes. With this thought, I completely understand Yanez calling out “the suspect had a wide nose” when giving a reason for stopping the car on the radio while turning around to follow the car.

    There is a lot of debate on why he did not perform a felony stop, calling the suspects out of the vehicle, if he thought it was an armed robbery suspect. There was an unbelted child in the car along a female passenger. If we perform a felony stop were calling out all the adults. When this occurs more often than not with a small child in the car, there is a concern that the child will crawl out and go to a parent. This causes several dangerous issues. Not the least of having a small child in a busy four lane road that could get struck but also having the child in the possible line of fire if things went south. Remember, Yanez was stopping the car to ID the driver who looked similar to the suspect from the robbery that occurred near by that he caught a glimpse of but for just a second. Yanez waited for back up before conducting the stop. The legal basis for the stop was the taillight malfunction.

    As he approached the vehicle Officer Yanez had the mindset that this could be the suspect, not the confirmation that it was.

    As he spoke with the driver, Castile stated that he must inform the officer that he had a firearm. After being told twice not to reach for it, from what we can ascertain Castile kept his hand in the proximity of the firearm. Castiles judgement was more than likely affected by the use of marijuana. There was a substantial personal use amount found in the vehicle after the shooting. Also his girlfriend had posted several recent FB live videos of the two of them consuming marijuana in the vehicle with the child in there as well as recent as the day prior to this event.

    Could this have been handled a variety of ways differently by all involved, yes. But that is the luxury of review after the fact and not in the unfolding moments of the incident as it occurred. I stand behind Yanez and his actions, for as the legal requirements for the use of deadly force per Minnesota Statue was there. What would a reasonable person do under the same circumstances in the same situation at that same time. Castile had the means (A firearm), the opportunity (close proximity) and the Intent as perceived from the person using Deadly Force (The mindset of the officer for the stop, the suspect not stopping his actions with his hand still in the perceived proximity of the firearm).

    In Minnesota the person with a Permit to Carry does not have to inform the officer that he is carrying. However training companies that offer the Permit to Carry Course which is a prerequisite for obtaining a permit are supposed to offer a section on Law Enforcement Encounters. In this section it is stressed that Law Enforcement Encounters most happen during traffic stops. If this were to occur the Permit Holder should not reach for drivers license or proof of insurance until asked for it. The driver should make the scene safer for the officer and the legally armed driver by rolling the drivers window down, turning on the dome light and placing their hands on the steering wheel. After the officer makes the initial contact with the driver and the officer asks for license and proof of insurance (in MN) the driver should then make a statement along the lines of, “Officer I have a Valid Permit to Carry. My firearm is located (tell them the location). What would you like me to do?”. This tells the officer that you are a legal permit holder and have gone through a background check, taking a firearms safety course and are alerting the officer that there is a firearm involved in the situation. If the permit holder stated that they have a firearm first this brings unwarranted heightened tension to the situation. Making movements that would cause concern to the officer for their safety is dangerous for all involved as what unfolded in this situation with Castile. Even taking the marijuana and the fact that officer Yanez was of the mindset that this could be a armed robbery suspect out of the equation, Castile did not conduct the due diligence for his safety or for those in his car or the officer. Also, Yanez was not “fired”. As a matter of fact he was taken off leave with pay and put back on desk duty for a short time before being charged. Once the media published that he was forced to remain on paid leave. He is a non union city employee who can be dismissed at will. With the strong emotions that are still occurring, the city felt it best that he no longer works as a police officer. There are negotiations for a severance package for him.

    I hope that calmer heads will prevail as this settles down post-verdict of the trial and we can all learn from this in an effort to avoid a repeat of this scenario.

    • June 29, 2017 at 7:12 pm
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      MN excellent insight, thank you,,,,

      • July 3, 2017 at 1:57 pm
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        Remember all good citizens…fear your police whenever you come into contact with them. They are worried about going home to their families…to bad about seeing yours. This “luxury of review” line? BS! You take a persons life for no reason other than you were ill prepared for the job? What would happen if a civilian did what this cop did? The cop did everything wrong and Mr. Castile died. He thought Castile could be a robbery suspect. That should have changed the cops whole approach.

    • Mad Duo Chris
      June 30, 2017 at 10:53 am
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      Thanks for the insight. I’ve had limited time to respond lately, but I just have a couple quick comments:

      1) There are ways to cautiously make a stop short of a felony stop. I frequently told drivers to put both hands out the window and didn’t approach until they complied. In this case, it wasn’t just the lack of a felony stop that suggests Yanez didn’t really believe Castile was the robber, it was the very casual approach.

      2) If Yanez did everything right and his actions were legal and reasonable, why would you say you “want to avoid a repeat of this scenario”?

      • July 3, 2017 at 6:15 am
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        1) It is difficult for us not to criticize after the fact because we were not there doing the stop. We could critique all we want for it is after the fact, Coulda, shoulda, woulda…but in the end it was the officers decision on how to handle the stop. There are multiple time we have done something where in the end we figure we should have done something different but we cant change the past.

        2) Even when all things go right, things still go wrong. We should learn from all incidents even when things go right. Even though Yanez was justified in his actions could things have been done different? How many times have we seen a incident where the officer was more than justified in using force but did not? Was it wrong? Did another officer/ Civilian/ Victim get hurt because of such lack of use of force? Again look at the answer in #1). Its the officer who makes the decisions

        • July 3, 2017 at 2:05 pm
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          The cop panicked and made up excuses after the shooting. He was told by Castile that he had a CCW. Most felons will inform the stopping cop of the fact right? Well, I hope the town goes broke paying for this one, it is not over yet. Note: I sound as if I wish ill on all cops, I do not. I just want bad cops and guilty cops to go to jail or as a minimum be fired. I am tired of the innocent civilian being blamed for getting themselves shot. Cops get paid for murdering someone and saying the magic words “I feared for my life”. Civilians have a very hard time justifying this in too many jurisdictions. Here in kalifornia, they cannot wait to prosecute a civilian using deadly force, but a cop…God bless them for making us safe (politicians saying this, not most of the citizens).

          • July 3, 2017 at 7:07 pm
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            Another example of someone THINKING they know things that are not so. Castile NEVER told Yanez he had a Permit to Carry. That is unequivocally known and proven. Most condemning Yanez are doing so with bits and pieces of information.

  • June 28, 2017 at 10:03 am
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    I was surprised to read such negative comments on here. I believe your perspective is important and answered a lot of questions I had about how a “routine” stop is handled and if cause for alarm, what actions would follow. Yes, I know that people will argue you cannot ever Know what you would do in the same situation. But you just proved it… Yes! You can…but reasonable deductions that even I came up with the very day I saw this on the news. and 7 shots towards someone after a radio call about a resemblance says “I am scared, and i no longer am listening or deducing my surroundings reasonably.”

    • June 28, 2017 at 6:03 pm
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      I’m just curious how you come to your conclusions? Especially the one that says 7 shots means he’s scared, that’s the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Today 7 shots is probably the average number of shots fired in an OIS. I was in two LOD shootings, fired 6 both times, that make me a little less scared or not as scared as Yanez?

  • June 27, 2017 at 2:09 pm
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    You can argue that he was a legal gun owner /carrier, but in the state of Minnesota it is illegal to even possess a gun if you are an unlawful user of a controlled substance. How can claim to be an officer of the law, and dismiss the marijuana issue so easily. That baby in the back seat had her life in jeopardy long before this situation took place.. And as far as marijuana not making people angry or dangerous, try doing a little research on that. Mike Brown was high and some believe it altered his behavior that day. Marijuana has been proven to have unpredictable affects on people so your theory of that is bs.. Further more, almost everything you mentioned is things that can only be seen in hindsight. So maybe you shouldn’t judge this officer until you have been in his EXACT same situation. I hope if you are still working in law enforcement that your superiors see this poor ass opinion on marijuana use.. Oh, and your theory about the gun not being between his leg and the console, well if Philandro wore his pants like most, the pocket probably was in that area..

    • Mad Duo Chris
      June 27, 2017 at 3:37 pm
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      Everyone keeps saying Castile was high. All I can find online is that THC was in his system, not how much or how recently he had used it. THC can stay in a person’s system for months. The bag of marijuana doesn’t automatically belong to him just because it was in his car, either. So where do you get that Castile was high when he was stopped?

      • June 27, 2017 at 4:15 pm
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        How the fk did you survive the streets that many years?so now you,re going to question a jury that actually sat thru all the evidence ,and rendered a not guilty verdict? So marijuana doesn’t affect your motor skills or your ability to follow simple instructions?like when you have a gun don’t fking move! I guess anyone you ever stopped driving under the influence of marijuana you cut lose to continue driving since it has no effect right? You know how many brothers ,and sisters we have lost because of hesitation? When he told him don’t reach for it in that tone if he puts his fking hands of the steering wheel and doesn’t move? Does he get shot? Maybe if he didn’t have marijuana in his system thats what he would have done!this brother ,notice i use the word brother!!went home alive ,perhaps you have been eating too much downtown cheese,and have lost sight of what that means ,either way the justice system found him not guilty ,and you are in no position to judge him from your computer chair.

        • June 28, 2017 at 7:39 pm
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          …so the jury in the OJ trial, who sat through all the DNA evidence, got it right? Is that what you’re saying?

      • June 30, 2017 at 10:55 pm
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        You didn’t look hard enough.

        “Defense would call Glen Hardin as a toxicology expert. Hardin was previously supervisor for the BCA toxicology. He was also part of the review program with the Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) program came to Minnesota in the early 90’s. He testified that he had reviewed the criminal complaint, the Hennepin county autopsy, BCA interview transcript of Yanez, toxicology results and the preliminary report from the prosecution expert witness Noble. He would state “in my opinion it was [consumed] within a couple of hours of death”, referring to the marijuana in Castile’s system. He would further that based on the levels of the Delta 9 THC and the 11-nor-9 Carboxy THC (a metabolite of THC). Between direct and cross he would share that he only focused on the femoral source of the blood and not the cavity source of blood. As Paulson would hammer him about the studies and reports that their expert witness spoke of that it is inappropriate to use postmortem results of marijuana testing. Hardin would agree that upon death tissue starts immediately breaking down which was the contention of prosecution that the fat tissues are releasing THC. Hardin would focus on the fact that he did the analysis correctly and his opinion was still valid. He would say distinctly that the levels of 47 ng/ml were “a very high reading”.

        • Mad Duo Chris
          June 30, 2017 at 11:01 pm
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          I know that a defense witness testified the levels were high. A paid defense witness’s opinion isn’t exactly unbiased. If the ME said the level was high, I have no argument against it. However, even if Castile consumed marijuana hours before his death, that doesn’t equal “so impaired he couldn’t follow instructions.” He was told to get his license, and as far as we can tell that’s exactly what he was doing.

  • June 27, 2017 at 1:05 pm
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    ……soooooo, how did Castile survive the first fifty-five traffic stops?

    Anyway….good article Chris H.

  • June 27, 2017 at 7:25 am
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    Come on really? Why did the Dept fire Yanez? Politically expediency, nothing more, nothing less. Like Officer Wilson in Ferguson who also did nothing wrong or Sgt Hardy here in NYC who will be found innocent at trial but let go by the NYPD. In the eyes of the dept/municipality these guys are toxic and its easier to let them go then live with them. Its the way of LE in the BLM world we now live in, even you should realize that.

  • June 26, 2017 at 11:57 pm
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    “Sir I have to tell you I have a firearm.”

    Three times he said “don’t pull it out.” He was high. He had a CCP which has certain requirements by law especially dealing with law enforcement. Castile, maybe by being high as shit, failed to meet those requirements in this stop. Chris Hernandez do you know what the law says about CCP holders and their interaction with law enforcement? You completely left any of that out of your article. I can’t believe a 23 year veteran would write an article like this. You embarrass our job.

    • Mad Duo Chris
      June 27, 2017 at 1:33 pm
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      On what do you base “he was high as shit”? I’ve been trying to find articles stating how much THC was in his system, all I’ve found is that some was there and there was conflicting testimony about how much from defense and prosecution witnesses. THC stays in your system a long time, as long as 100 days for a heavy user. What’s your evidence he was so high it affected his judgment?

      • June 27, 2017 at 3:01 pm
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        Was that description of yourself crustiest or craziest? Hope it feels good to Monday morning quarterback an incident using all facts not available to Yanez at the moment in time that he fired his gun. Makes you look as ignorant as every other uninformed MMQ who does the same crap.

        Others have covered this in detail. (Thank you). I won’t have to deal with the sour feeling I get thinking of what you have done and repeating it. Sufice it to know that the high impression you have of yourself isn’t shared. Elite writing team my a$$.

        • Mad Duo Chris
          June 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm
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          If it makes you feel better, I didn’t write that bio. My opinion of myself isn’t nearly that high. 🙂

          • June 27, 2017 at 6:21 pm
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            Good, because many of us do not have such a high opinion of you either.

          • Mad Duo Chris
            June 27, 2017 at 10:09 pm
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            I love it when I can bring different people into agreement. It’s like a big kumbayah fest in here.

    • Mad Duo Chris
      June 27, 2017 at 9:53 am
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      Not bad. I’m at work, will respond and comment on your blog tonight. Thanks for the thoughtful response.

  • June 26, 2017 at 4:46 pm
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    I don’t like the shooting but I also don’t think the verdict was wrong in terms of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It would have been unreasonable to conduct a high-risk stop on a vehicle when the driver looks like a suspect from a robbery 4 days ago, absent other evidence. But that doesn’t mean the suspicion is irrelevant. I also believe that the victim was not actually reaching for his gun to try and kill the officer- indeed I have no doubt on that point- but I also come to that recognition after considering the situation carefully. There was no time to do that in this case. The victim reached back, the officer knew he had a firearm, the decision time was pushed to zero.

    It was, ultimately, the wrong decision. But criminal culpability in my mind (and that of the jury) is significantly mitigated because of the time constraint. Don’t @#$^ reach for stuff after you tell a cop you have a gun. If a state requires training for a carry permit, this should be one of the lessons.

    As to the weed… I can see that being a factor. People rolling dirty and armed are more dangerous. But the officer’s explanation about the guy smoking in front of his kid is just weird.

  • June 26, 2017 at 4:25 pm
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    Chris Hernandez, your article is garbage and you’ve exposed yourself as a sell-out and a criminal apologist. What you did in this article was slant the objective evidence towards the conclusion that you favored all along, which was that Yanez acted unlawfully. And despite the fact that the objective evidence showed that Yanez DID act lawfully, despite the fact that jurors determined that Yanez acted lawfully, you still wrote this inflammatory work of fiction and all because you’re not man enough to admit that you got it wrong.

    Most of the information that you used in your article were facts that Yanez became aware of AFTER the shooting. At the time of the incident, Yanez had to act with what he saw happening in front of him and that was Castile reaching towards the right side of his body despite his orders to the contrary, which was exactly where Castile’s firearm was subsequently located.

    If that’s not clear enough for you, let me dumb it down for you some more: Yanez shot an armed and non-compliant suspect who was under the influence of marijuana. This is certainly not the first time this has happened in the history of American law enforcement and it certainly won’t be the last time.

    Based on what I now know about Castile and the totality of the circumstances, I do not believe that Castile planned on shooting Yanez that day. I don’t think anyone really believes that. But I’m basing this belief on the information that I have NOW and it is information that Yanez did not have available to him at the time of his incident. And what I will NOT do while sitting safely behind my computer almost a year after the fact is fault Yanez for using deadly force against an armed and non-compliant individual who matched the physical description of a robbery suspect. In hindsight, I can not and will not second-guess the actions that Yanez took in real time. That is the essence of Graham v. Connor and it’s apparently something you never learned in your alleged 23 years as a police officer.

    I’m not even going to bother getting into how you’ve completely misquoted Yanez during your ridiculous article. Had you bothered to follow the actual trial, you would understand that Castile was not inconsistent in any of his statements to his supervisors or the investigators after the fact. Here again, this is why the jurors found him not guilty on all charges.

    It’s obvious to me that you are basing your opinion of this being an unjustified shooting primarily on the fact that Castile turned out not to be the robbery suspect in question. Again, you’re basing your opinion on what was learned in hindsight.

    What you need to do is ask yourself is if Castile had, in fact, been the robbery suspect in question would you now believe that the shooting was justified. If the answer to that question is “yes”, then you owe Jeronimo Yanez and his family a public apology.

    • Mad Duo Chris
      June 26, 2017 at 5:22 pm
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      Not surprisingly, I disagree.

      The dumbed-down essence of the incident is 1) did Yanez reasonably perceive that Castile was drawing a weapon on him, and 2) was his reaction to that perception reasonable. Number 2 is arguably yes; if you really think a driver is drawing a weapon *on* you, you’re justified in using deadly force (generally speaking). But I think he was way off on 1, as evidenced by the many factors I listed such as Yanez not even knowing where the gun was, saying he never saw it, and it still being in Castile’s pocket after the shooting.

      I have no problem analyzing an officer’s actions after a shooting. Analysis is how we learn, refusing to “second guess” an officer is both a cover for mistakes and a refusal to improve as a profession. I’ve torn myself up after critical encounters, I’ve received honest critique for mistakes I’ve made, and I’ve learned from them. Hopefully other officers have too.

      As far as Yanez not giving inconsistent statements, that’s not what I found. As I listed in the article with references, Yanez initially said he didn’t ask where the gun was, or know where it was, or see it. And I’m curious why, if it’s so obvious Yanez did everything right, that his department fired him. Please provide links to show that he never said he didn’t see the gun, and that he was consistent throughout the investigation and trial, and if possible an explanation with evidence for why he was fired.

      My conclusion isn’t based on Castile not being the robbery suspect. I think Yanez’s RS for the stop based on a wide-set nose and “deer in the headlights” look was incredibly weak, but he had a valid equipment violation anyway. My conclusion is based on a totality of the circumstances, and all the evidence which even you admit suggests Castile never had any intent to draw his weapon. That’s why I discussed point 1 above; I don’t see any evidence Yanez reasonably perceived he was being drawn on, especially if Castile was reaching toward a place where Yanez didn’t even know a gun was present, and he never saw it.

      I’ve dealt with plenty of armed felony suspects. Simply being armed and a felony suspect doesn’t automatically justify a shooting. If the entire situation was different, i.e. a felony stop on a known armed suspect who reached toward a weapon, my opinion would be different. That’s not what happened. In my opinion the only people who deserve an apology are Castile’s loved ones.

      Thanks for your comments, and stay safe.

      • June 26, 2017 at 6:07 pm
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        Here again, you are basing your conclusions that Castile did not intend to draw his firearm in HINDSIGHT, which is not a luxury that Yanez had at the time of the incident. If you can’t understand that basic premise of Graham v. Connor, then you shouldn’t be writing articles about police UOFs, much less analyzing shootings. Your article is completely disrespectful of the jurors who spent nearly 30 hours deliberating on the objective evidence and rightfully found Yanez not guilty.

        “If the entire situation was different, i.e. a felony stop on a known armed suspect who reached toward a weapon, my opinion would be different. “

        So, in other words, the police can only shoot an armed suspect they know to be a felon? If they don’t have that information available to them at the time, they have to wait and get shot at before they can defend themselves?

        Your comments would be entertaining if you weren’t actually a police officer. But you are a police officer and that makes your comments just pathetic. We are always our own worst enemies.

        • Mad Duo Chris
          June 26, 2017 at 8:49 pm
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          For accusing me of twisting things, you’re doing a hell of a job of twisting my words. I didn’t say you can only shoot an armed felon, I offered that as one example of a justified shooting.

          And yes, we’re our own worst enemies. A cop just got acquitted for killing someone even you admit wasn’t a threat, because the officer perceived a threat that didn’t exist, and failed to give proper commands that likely would have prevented the shooting. And you’re mad at me for saying so.

          There’s a reason I speak out. I don’t want more officers killed by angry people who feel cops can get away with killing innocent people. We can prevent more Dallas and Baton Rouge police ambushes by taking an honest look at ourselves and our practices and making changes accordingly, or we can continue covering for officers who make dumb, *unreasonable* mistakes that kill innocent people.

          • June 26, 2017 at 11:39 pm
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            “A cop just got acquitted for killing someone even you admit wasn’t a threat”

            Look who is twisting words now. Saying that I don’t believe that Castile intended to shoot Yanez while sitting safely behind my computer a year after the fact is not the same as saying that Yanez didn’t reasonably believe that Castile posed a threat to him in real time. I believe Yanez had every reason to feel in fear for his safety at the time of the incident. The jury agreed with me.

            “We can prevent more Dallas and Baton Rouge police ambushes by taking an honest look at ourselves and our practices and making changes accordingly”

            Well, why don’t you just turn in your badge to the criminals if you really believe that shit, Chris. The completely justified shooting of Alton Sterling was also the impetus for Micah Johnson ambushing those officers in Dallas last year. You want to tell the families of those slain officers that it could have been avoided if we simply had more dialogue with the anti-police thugs?

            There is no reasoning with or placating domestic terrorists. All we can do is eliminate them. I had you pegged right from the start. You really are an apologist.

          • Mad Duo Chris
            June 27, 2017 at 9:48 am
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            Except that I already wrote articles explaining why the Sterling shooting was justified, and the Brown shooting, and even the Tamir Rice shooting. I even linked those in my article. I’m all for telling irrational mobs to go to hell when they’re wrong about a shooting. But Castile was no Sterling or Brown, or even Rice. Apparently you think it’s reasonable to shoot a calm, cooperative guy five times after he informs you he’s carrying because he reaches toward his body after you told him to give you his license even though you don’t even know if the gun is on his body and you never see the gun. I don’t think that’s reasonable.

          • June 27, 2017 at 2:54 pm
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            “Except that I already wrote articles explaining why the Sterling shooting was justified, and the Brown shooting, and even the Tamir Rice shooting. I even linked those in my article. I’m all for telling irrational mobs to go to hell when they’re wrong about a shooting.”

            Yeah, I saw all of that. You did a good job there. But you’re way off base on this one, bro. Philando Castile acted lawfully. He has had the worst year of his life over this lawful shooting. He can’t return to work to work after this. His head just isn’t right after this shooting. That’s happened to good cops before.

            Besides Yanez’s close friends and family, we are all the man has to support him. How do you think it makes him and his family feel to read articles by other members of law enforcement brutally critiquing him while he’s down and out? Would you want it done to you if you knew you were in the right? No, I don’t think you would.

            And here’s one thing that you don’t realize. If it was YOU involved in a very controversial, but lawful shooting, Joe Hoffman would have your back until the bitter end no matter what public opinion was. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’d be able to expect the same in return from you.

            “Apparently you think it’s reasonable to shoot a calm, cooperative guy five times after he informs you he’s carrying because he reaches toward his body after you told him to give you his license even though you don’t even know if the gun is on his body and you never see the gun.”

            Yeah, Castile was a calm guy who had just informed a police officer that he was armed, and despite instructions to the contrary, he began reaching towards the right side of his body when Yanez said he saw the gun. And even if Yanez never claimed to see the gun, this would be a lawful shooting, because at the end of the day, no matter how much hype and emotion was thrown into this case, the prosecution couldn’t change the fact that Castile wasn’t complying and he began reaching towards the location of his body where the gun was later found.

            No jury would ever be able to convict Yanez for this shooting. The prosecution knew this, yet they foolishly brought the man to trial to appease the same irrational mobs that you believe in telling to go to Hell. This is why the case was lost.

            I get that it would have been much better if Castile had turned out to be the robbery suspect in question, but that’s not how it worked out. This was a case of an intoxicated motorist doing everything except for what the officer told him to do. And every cop knows that happens on traffic stops a lot. Unfortunately, this was one of those stops that had a tragic ending. It’s very sad, yes, but that doesn’t make it any less lawful.

          • Mad Duo Chris
            June 27, 2017 at 3:32 pm
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            For what it’s worth, I understand that the jury could have had reasonable doubt. And as I said, I also believe Yanez honesty believed his life was in danger. Maybe I’m jaded by having made too many traffic stops on actual criminals or actual uncooperative armed suspects who I didn’t shoot even after they reached somewhere (in one case after a pursuit on a drunk who ignored my commands at gunpoint and reached for his wallet in the console), but I can’t see shooting a cooperative driver in a ccw state who politely told you he was armed during a traffic stop after you asked for his license. I didn’t have a complaint about Yanez drawing, I wouldn’t have criticized him for backing off and ordering Castile to put his hands out the window, and I wouldn’t have criticized him if the evidence showed Castile was drawing and Yanez hadn’t said he didn’t see the gun. But shooting a calm, polite driver in those circumstances just because he reached somewhere a gun might have been is unreasonable. If we disagree, so be it. That doesn’t mean I won’t back up an officer who did the right thing, it means I won’t back up an officer who was unreasonable. And I wouldn’t expect any cop’s support if I killed a non-threatening driver out of unreasonable panic.

            Maybe you know Yanez. If so, and he read my essay, tell him I don’t think he’s a murderer but I do think he made an unreasonable mistake and then made himself look worse with the “I smelled marijuana and got scared” excuse. I hope he moves on with his life and gets past this. But he’s not the victim here.

            And you stay safe, wherever you work.

          • June 27, 2017 at 11:24 pm
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            We all become jaded in our own way over the years on this job, Chris, so I can’t fault you in that regard. I don’t know Yanez personally just like I don’t know you personally. I really don’t need to know either of you to have your backs if I believe you acted lawfully.

            This was a rough scene all the way around. It was really a tragic confluence of events. I’m not at all happy that Castile is dead. I’m not at all happy that a little girl had to watch him die. But I knew as soon as I read the charging document that it was a lawful shooting. And I have to stand on the law. Tactics are another matter altogether. We could talk about tactics for days.

            You believe that Yanez issuing more specific orders to Castile would have changed the outcome of this situation. That’s something we can never really know for sure. Speaking from my own experiences, I’ve given quite specific orders to many motorists over the years who did the exact opposite of what they were told and the situation ended badly for them (although not in gunfire), so I tend to be skeptical about these matters.

            What it really comes down to is what Yanez saw in those fateful seconds before shooting Castile. Yanez said he saw Castile reaching for the gun. And based on the objective evidence that came out during the trial, there is really nothing to refute that. This is why he was found not guilty. It just sucks because Castile wasn’t the robbery suspect in question. I look at this shooting as a case of “lawful but awful”.

            I should apologize for coming at you so harshly in the beginning, because unlike Greg Ellifritz and some other LEOs who wrote about this incident, at least you had the integrity to allow others to respond to you and you took the time to reply individually and kept your cool while being attacked. I can respect that.

            Stay safe yourself.

          • Mad Duo Chris
            June 27, 2017 at 11:56 pm
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            Thanks brother. I appreciate the apology, and no hard feelings. If you’re ever in Texas let me know, we’ll hit the local Hooters and have some drinks.

      • June 26, 2017 at 6:12 pm
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        Let me further clarify that Yanez described the gun that he claimed Castile was reaching for to the jury and they obviously accepted his version of events.

        Again, an armed and non-compliant suspect was shot while reaching towards the right side of his body, which is exactly where the gun was subsequently located.

        This is a very simple case, but you self-promoting windbags are seeking to complicate it and all because the outcome of the trial didn’t fit your preconceived misconceptions.

        • Mad Duo Chris
          June 26, 2017 at 8:44 pm
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          Do you also argue that OJ Simpson must be innocent because the jury acquitted him?

          • June 26, 2017 at 11:45 pm
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            “Do you also argue that OJ Simpson must be innocent because the jury acquitted him?”

            That’s a totally invalid analogy. In the case of OJ Simpson, the defense claimed that Simpson did not kill Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman and accused the LAPD of planting evidence to frame Simpson. The jurors bought that argument and acquitted Simpson.

            Yanez’s case is completely different. In Yanez’s case, we all knew that he killed Castile. The question is whether or not it was a legally justified shooting or manslaughter. I said it was legally justified from the start. Here again, the jury agreed with me.

          • Mad Duo Chris
            June 27, 2017 at 9:43 am
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            The analogy shows that a not guilty jury decision doesn’t always prove innocence.

            You have an odd habit of claiming I’m making exact comparisons to unrelated situations, but I’m just discussing principles.

      • June 26, 2017 at 6:18 pm
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        “As I listed in the article with references, Yanez initially said he didn’t ask where the gun was, or know where it was, or see it. “

        That was a statement that was taken out of context by the investigators for the purpose of charging Yanez. When Yanez testified at trial, he clarified what he meant by that statement. And again, the jury found that clarification to be credible. Had you bothered to follow the trial, you would know this.

        • Mad Duo Chris
          June 26, 2017 at 8:43 pm
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          This was taken out of context according to…who? You? You’re claiming Yanez never said this and the investigators lied just to get Yanez charged? Or are you claiming he did say it, but he didn’t mean what he said?

          Are we talking about the same shooting, or what?

          • June 26, 2017 at 11:46 pm
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            “This was taken out of context according to…who? You? You’re claiming Yanez never said this and the investigators lied just to get Yanez charged? Or are you claiming he did say it, but he didn’t mean what he said?

            Are we talking about the same shooting, or what?”

            Again, Chris, had you followed the trial, you would understand what I’m talking about. I’m not going to do your own research for you. That is YOUR responsibility when you choose to write an article. You did not do that here and that’s why you’re open to be attacked.

          • Mad Duo Chris
            June 27, 2017 at 9:41 am
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            Oh, attack me all you want. No complaints there. But you claimed Yanez’s statements that he never saw the gun and didn’t know where it was deliberately taken out of context in an attempt to charge Yanez. You made the claim, you back it up. Telling me to prove your point doesn’t prove your point. So again, did Yanez say that or not?

            I think this is the crux of the issue. If Yanez actually saw the gun being drawn, I have no argument with him shooting. According to you, he made that claim consistently. Yet the evidence doesn’t show that, and even you contradict that by saying you don’t believe Castile was drawing.

      • June 26, 2017 at 6:20 pm
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        “And I’m curious why, if it’s so obvious Yanez did everything right, that his department fired him.”

        Yanez was NOT fired. He resigned of his own accord and will be receiving an employee benefit separation. Research, Chris. It’s your friend.

          • June 26, 2017 at 11:48 pm
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            It’s hilarious that you actually believe an article that contradicts itself. The title says Yanez was fired, but the narrative explains that he was offered a separation package and says nothing about termination. Yanez was NOT fired. Fact.

          • June 26, 2017 at 11:51 pm
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            Oh, and Chris, even if Yanez had been fired, it doesn’t change the fact that this was a legally justified shooting. Do you not understand the difference between criminal and administrative proceedings after allegedly being a cop for 23 years?

      • June 26, 2017 at 6:37 pm
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        If you followed the trial, you would know that Joseph Kauser, the back-up officer, stated that Yanez followed protocol. You would also know that the chief supported Yanez’s actions on the witness stand.

        Some officers (including myself) feel that Yanez should have specifically ordered Castile to place his hands on the steering wheel after learning about the presence of the gun, but what happens if Castile didn’t comply and continued to reach towards the right side of his body where the gun was later located? We would have the same result of the shooting.

        We can’t force people to listen to us. We can only respond to their non-compliance. You’re blaming Castile’s non-compliance on Yanez and that just isn’t fair.

  • June 26, 2017 at 11:14 am
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    Nonsense. Almost everything he claims to be reasons why Castile shouldn’t have been shot are things discovered AFTER the shooting. Which makes them irrelevant. 1-Castile’s background. 2-Context. Yanez thought Castile MIGHT be the robbery suspect. Not enough for a high risk stop, but certainly enough to be at a heightened state of awareness. 3-Instructions. How much fucking clearer can it get than “don’t reach for it” and “don’t pull it out” while a gun is pointed at your face and Yanez reaching into the car to grab his arm does it get”. 4- Location of the gun. This “expert” didn’t do ENOUGH research. Prosecutors brought an identical pair of shorts and a replica of Castile’s pistol to court. Guess what? It backfired. When in the pocket, the butt of the gun stuck out of the top of the RIGHT pocket. Right next to the seatbelt Castile’s girlfriend said at one point he was reaching for. At another point she said he was reaching for his wallet. IN THAT SAME AREA. 5- Marijuana. Does this dweeb insinuate that people smoking marijuana never shoot people? His whole line of reasoning here is too stupid to address further.

    NO ONE, at this point in time thinks Castile was going to shoot Yanez. That’s irrelevant. Yanez’ reaction, upon learning of the gun and Castile “reaching” is clearly the reaction of someone who thinks they are about to be shot. THAT is what is relevant. And that is why he was rightfully acquitted.

    Another point. Castile was NOT legally carrying. You can’t possess or carry a pistol if you are an illegal user of marijuana or any other drug.

  • June 26, 2017 at 10:27 am
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    I guess its a good thing that you weren’t on the jury,,,, ” Yanez said he thought Castile was drawing on him, and I don’t see anything in the context of the stop to make that a reasonable assumption.” Yanez yells a couple of times not to do that or not to touch the weapon, while you cant in fact see what if anything Castile is doing its pretty obvious he’s doing something that causes Yanez to raise his level so to speak. Or else Yanez is just a cold blooded killer who was out to execute someone,,,

    • June 26, 2017 at 12:48 pm
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      Or else Yanez lacked the composure, confidence, and verbal skills to adequately navigate the situation and defaulted to the most certain course of action.

      • June 26, 2017 at 2:33 pm
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        I see nothing that indicates what you say, his commands were short and to the point, clearly Castile continued to do what he was doing. Even when Castile mentions initially he was armed Yanez’ reply was calm, OK, just don’t touch it, or similar.

      • June 26, 2017 at 9:04 pm
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        And if that’s true out still doesn’t make the shooting unreasonable.

      • June 26, 2017 at 11:55 pm
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        “Or else Yanez lacked the composure, confidence, and verbal skills to adequately navigate the situation and defaulted to the most certain course of action.”

        Then you clearly didn’t watch the video or follow the trial testimony.

  • June 26, 2017 at 8:57 am
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    Thanks for the insight and the fortitude to “break” from the mainstream LEO voice and speak on the facts.

    I’m not a cop but do support wholeheartedly the efforts of those that risk life, limb, and sanity to do their jobs in a professional manner. Throughout the discourse over the many lethal force events that seem to make headlines, I have wondered at what point the public would wise up and begin to hold responsible not just the cop, but the city and municipal governments as well as the relevant LE bureaucracies responsible. From everything I read and from conversations w/ cops I know and trust, there is a pretty uniform trend of:

    A) Not funding recurring, adequate, realistic, scenario-driven training (especially force on force) that would help officers learn to cope with and manage the panic and stress of such events. I hear so many sad stories where LE “management” is driven by the metrics of squeezing dollars and not making waves.

    B) Not creating and enforcing legitimate standards (applied across rank boundaries) for performance on said training as well as (WARNING- possible sand in the chi-chi time) fitness standards. Where I live there are some morbidly obese guys behind badges that I know would have to go to the gun in many spots where a more physically capable officer could resolve the issue with hands. That fear of the fight could easily escalate into a bad shoot.

    Just like there are plenty of cops that aren’t “gun guys” and have to be made to train because they lack the insight that their skill (or lack thereof) is directly proportional to survival in the worst moment, I know there will always be cops that target the minimum level of competence required to stay employed. That’s the nature of the human animal. I would argue that the command structure is responsible for creating and enforcing a culture that either inspires the “minimum kinda guy” to rise above mediocre, or pushes him out to other employment. I do realize that would require attracting and vetting new candidates to a higher standard which could only be realistically accomplished through better pay. I’m no fan of taxes at all but I’d be totally OK with a bigger bill to see my local PD staffed entirely by trained, motivated, and capable officers. Hell, they’re already way underpaid as it is.

    I know it’s just a dream but one can hope.

    • June 26, 2017 at 9:05 pm
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      “I’m not a cop but…”

      Nuff said

    • June 26, 2017 at 11:53 pm
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      “I’m not a cop”

      Then your opinion is even more meaningless than Hernandez’s opinion.

  • June 26, 2017 at 6:00 am
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    This point here is right on target:

    Yanez’s acquittal wasn’t a victory for law enforcement, it was a defeat. It was a message that cops can be expected to panic over nothing, to shoot upon the slightest provocation, and get a pass if they make the most ridiculous, flimsiest excuses for being “in fear.” It was a message to the public to expect less, not more, courage, dedication and bravery from cops. The not guilty verdict wasn’t something to cheer, and I can’t understand the pro-LE web sites saying it proves the shooting was justified or complaining about Yanez being fired.

    There is a tremendous amount of responsibility – arguably vastly greater than reflected by the compensation LEO receive – that comes with the power and authority entrusted to our LEO. Accountability is a must and “panic” / “fear” can never excuse sub par performance, even if they are a factor.

  • June 26, 2017 at 12:34 am
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    Chris, thank you for your perspective. However, it seems you use the empty chamber of Mr. Castile’s gun against the officer. The empty chamber could only have been known via 20/20 hindsight, not in the moment. I don’t see how the empty chamber has any real bearing on analyzing Officer Yanez’s decision to shoot.

    Also, what is your opinion on how the jury arrived at their decision? Did they get it wrong? Or did the prosecutor do a poor job? Or was it simply that the evidence did not support the charges filed beyond a reasonable doubt?

    I imagine the jury did the best the could with what they had. Whether one verdict or another would be better for society is not a consideration to be pondered by the jury.

  • June 26, 2017 at 12:16 am
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    I withheld judgment until I saw the video. After seeing the video, I don’t like it one bit. I think Castile’s death was unnecessary and could have been avoided by better training. As cops, we deal with armed people all the time, and a lot of them don’t need to be shot. I think better tactics should have been used, ESPECIALLY considering the little girl in the backseat. Hernandez’s critique of the tactics is very much on point: “React as necessary, draw if you have to, take cover behind the pillar or whatever, but I’d highly discourage you from escalating to lethal force just based on him “reaching.” I hope departments are incorporating this type of scenario into their training. If I shot everyone the second they did something squirrely on a traffic stop, the body count would be tremendous.

    I respectfully disagree with the parts of the article devoted to proving Castile was not going to shoot Yanez. I agree he was not, but that doesn’t really make the shooting good or bad. Perhaps Alton Sterling was reaching for his gun in attempt to ditch it(not to shoot the officers). Either way, that was still a good shoot. The totality of his actions were night-and-day different from Castile’s, and it was perfectly reasonable for the officers to suspect Sterling had deadly intentions.

  • June 25, 2017 at 9:48 pm
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    Excellent. Thank you for cutting through the crap.

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