Sunday, June 18, 2017

NY Times -- Grim Echoes for Families: An Officer Shoots and a Jury Acquits

On Friday "in Minneapolis, another police officer was found not guilty in the killing of another black man. Philando Castile's girlfriend, with him at the time, said he had been shot as he reached for his identification. Defense lawyers said the police officer believed Castile was reaching for his gun.

“Since 2005, 33 officers have been arrested or charged with murder or manslaughter, but not convicted. In many of these cases, juries acquit officers who say they feared for their lives.

“The underlying reality is police are quicker to assume that a black man is armed with or reaching for a gun that will be used against them than they are to assume a white man is reaching for or has a gun that will be used against them.

Combine such racism with the most permissible legal access to handguns in living memory, and you create a deadly mix – especially for black men.

“Castile was licensed to carry a weapon. When the police officer stopped him and asked for his identification, Castile apparently reached for it in the glove compartment, which also contained a gun. In a dashboard camera recording before he was shot, Castile can be heard calmly informing the officer about the weapon.

“This ended in tragedy for Castile. It is an ongoing tragedy for black men in America. And it's creating a deepening wedge between police and the communities they’re meant to keep safe,” -- Robert Reich.

And this comment by Fred Dana Meyer I thought was particularly pertinent:

“I realize that police officers are human. They place themselves in situations that could turn dangerous. But surely there could have been a better way to handle this situation. Perhaps listening would have helped. And we haven't even addressed the issue of this officer shooting into a car occupied by a young child. If your first response is to be so afraid that you start shooting without assessing the situation, perhaps you have chosen the wrong career.”

Supporters of Philando Castile marched 
along University Avenue in St. Paul 
on Friday night after a vigil at Minnesota’s State Capitol. 

Credit Anthony Souffle/Star Tribune, via Associated Press
Grim Echoes for Families: An Officer Shoots and a Jury Acquits

By Mitch Smith, Yamiche Alcindor, And Jack Healy