Mimesis Law
16 September 2019

Officer Jeronimo Yanez Will Face A Jury For Killing Philando Castile

November 17, 2016 (Fault Lines) – On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed by Saint Anthony, Minnesota Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. I reviewed the video that was available and decided to keep my mouth shut at the time.[1] I could not determine what happened from that video, which did not even start until after Castile was shot and dying. So I didn’t say a thing. Today the Ramsey County Attorney announced that Yanez was being charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.

I believe that the County Attorney handled this properly. First, John Choi brought in an outside agency, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, to investigate the potential criminal offenses involved. Choi brought in a special prosecutor to help in making the decision to charge Yanez by information, to take the case to a grand jury, or to decline any prosecution of Yanez. While this is not the exact procedure that I believe is a best practice, it is very close. You get an outside agency to do the criminal investigation. You appoint a special prosecutor to handle the charging decision and prosecution. This was close enough.

The facts are murky based on the criminal complaint that was filed. Yanez pulled Castile over on a pretext stop, for defective brake lights, because Yanez thought that Castile looked like a robbery suspect. Pretextual traffic stops are good police work, allowing an officer to check out a hunch when he has observed an actual traffic violation unrelated to the hunch.[2] I’ve done a large number of these, and used to call them “no glove in the glovebox” stops. You would be amazed at what you can find. So far, so good.

Then Yanez contacted Castile, and asked for his driver’s license and insurance. Castile handed Yanez the insurance card, promptly told Yanez that he had a concealed carry permit, and that he was carrying a weapon. Yanez then told him not to reach for the gun and Castile said that he would not. Castile then tried to retrieve his driver’s license, as instructed, and Yanez shot Castile seven times. One of the rounds struck near the passenger, Diamond Reynolds, and another struck the rear seat near Reynold’s four-year-old daughter.

This is where it gets interesting. Yanez’s partner, officer Joseph Kauser, never drew his gun nor fired a shot. Kauser said that the shooting took him by surprise. Castile’s gun was in the right front pocket of his cargo shorts, in a pocket holster. The pocket was 12-inches deep, and from experience, with a seat belt on, it would be next to impossible to draw a gun carried in that manner. According to Kauser and Reynolds, Castile had reached for his right rear pocket, where people normally have their driver’s license, and where Castile had both his driver’s license and carry permit. According to Yanez, Castile reached across his body, between his leg and the center console of the car.

Those facts don’t match up. Someone is mistaken or lying. It was later determined that Castile was not involved in the robbery.[3] So we know of at least one mistake.

So how do we resolve this? Reynolds is firmly convinced that Yanez killed Castile without justification, illegally. Yanez is saying that he was in fear for his life and had to shoot, meaning that it would be justifiable. Between 2005 and 2014 in the U.S., 47 officers were charged in shooting cases, but since 2015, 35 officers have been charged. That’s a 700% increase in the number of officers charged per year, due in large part to two factors: 1) a sharp increase in video evidence, and 2) the distrust of the public due to the inability of the police to discipline themselves.

Both of these factors put pressure on other officials, such as elected prosecutors, council members, and sheriffs to prosecute officers. And, believe it or not, that’s a good thing, not that you’ll get police officers to agree with that proposition. No, over at PoliceOne they are having a cow.

That’s [explicative]!!! The turd had a gun and the officer said he reached for it repeatedly. That chick was just as dirty as he was that’s why she didn’t shed a tear. Those DA’s are out of control.

Of course, Castile, from both officers comments as noted in the complaint, never reached anywhere near the gun. Yanez said that he was reaching over towards the center console, on the opposite side of the body from where the gun actually was located. Kauser indicated that Castile was reaching back towards his hip pocket, again, not where the gun was located. So some officers are whining that they should give up, and just answer calls.

Sad but the day has come to just sit back and watch the destruction.  The idiots will kill the idiots.  They will weed out each other . . . Get a dispatch, go take care of it, wait for the next.  Move on. It’s the new way that they want. Go to work, go home safe.  Period.  I can’t stand that they are winning as far as us laying down but good God.  These prosecutors are pandering morons. So screw it. I’m laying down. Get a call and service it. Move along and go home, make it to retirement. . . .

If that’s what they want to do, then they need to resign, and find something else to do, because the public is entitled to police officers who will actually do the job. We can always find more officers.

Now the gun that Castile had with him (whether legally owned or not could still have killed Officer Yanez) was recovered right? If Castile was not reaching for the gun, then why else would he have been shot? I guess I’m just very confused as to why he’s getting charged with any crime at all. My guess would be that safety and common sense took a backseat to political [expletive] in this case.

This points out the cognitive dissonance that police officers are going through right now. On the one hand, they are used to their word being gold, that no one doubts what they say. That’s why there hasn’t been an officer charged for a shooting in Minnesota in the last sixteen years or more. On the other hand, if a crime is proven, most officers will dump their support of Yanez so fast that it’ll make the Roadrunner look like a sloth. Cops don’t like cops that violate the law, and they want malefactors punished. But they want to be in control of the punishment, for police to make the decisions. The two sides of the issue create a problem for them.

Here you have questions about the facts, about what really happened between Yanez and Castile, Reynolds, and Kauser. Who do you believe when the witnesses don’t agree, and the two officers don’t agree?

You see, they really don’t understand that we have a process for resolving these types of questions. It’s called a trial, and a jury decides the facts after hearing all of the evidence. We use this procedure all of the time, in criminal cases, civil cases, probate, and in family law.

We let the jury decide.

But even the cops who are starting to get the changes in the political spectrum don’t really understand.

Barring some other revelation that we haven’t heard, this is another sacrifice to the alter of political correctness and public pressure.  The DA charged this not on probable cause but by public pressure.  He can go to trial, ruin the cop, publicly and financially, and if he gets a not guilty?  See BLM, the liberal media, I tried.  If he gets a guilty, see, I prosecuted a “bad cop” for shooting a black male.  It’s a win/win for the DA.

First, the DA had to have probable cause to charge the case, and there is clearly probable cause. Castile is dead. Yanez shot him. Done, there’s your PC. Second, yeah, there is public pressure. If Choi doesn’t prosecute on a case like this, he can be out of office after the next election. It’s happened elsewhere.[4] So Choi prosecutes the case, and as the officer above notes, it’s a win/win for him.

And the reason why that is the case is that the public sees an officer facing trial, before the public. There is no special “get out of jail free” card, the officer has to defend himself and show that he’s not guilty of a criminal homicide. Yanez will still get the benefit of the doubt, but he faces a jury. And we let the jury decide.

The cops don’t like that? McDonalds is hiring.

[1] I will note that I had no problem calling the Tamir Rice and Alton Sterling shootings justifiable, or that I called for the prosecution of former officer Jason Stockley and former officer Nouman Raja.

[2] See Whren v. United States.

[3] Another robbery, with the same suspect, captured on video, occurred after Castile was killed. It’s kind of hard to commit a robbery when you’re dead.

[4] Tim McGinty was turned out of office in Cleveland after the public was upset about the Tamir Rice case. Devon Anderson was turned out of office in Houston after a series of issues, including putting a rape victim in jail as a material witness. There are more examples out there.

7 Comments on this post.

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  • bacchys
    17 November 2016 at 11:27 am - Reply

    A bit aside, but a couple of months after this shooting I was reading a FOP president’s thoughts on racial profiling in traffic stops. He insisted it wasn’t possible because no one can see into a car well enough to tell someone’s race. In the Castile shooting, however, Yanez could see well enough to note his distinctive nostrils.

    Who to believe, who to believe…

  • MoButter MoBetta
    17 November 2016 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    I sure hope someone replied to the thread containing “He can go to trial, ruin the cop, publicly and financially, and if he gets a not guilty?” and let him know that Yanez might beat the rap but he can’t beat the ride. I understand CDLs are fond of saying this.

  • maz
    17 November 2016 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    “On the other hand, if a crime is proven, most officers will dump their support of Yanez so fast that it’ll make the Roadrunner look like a sloth. Cops don’t like cops that violate the law, and they want malefactors punished. But they want to be in control of the punishment, for police to make the decisions.”

    I think someone’s been in the evidence locker, celebrating the recent legalization votes prematurely. My admittedly unsympathetic view from outside suggests most officers would drop their support of Yanez only if dragged, kicking and screaming, to this point, with no other option open to them. To cite but one [slightly stale] example, Justin Volpe was clearly a malefactor who had violated a number of laws as well as Abner Louima’s rectum. Yet, we did not see a roadrunner-ish dash to testify — nor even a slothful crawl towards justice. Instead, we saw a number of fellow officers going to great lengths to cover up the crimes and obstruct justice.

    Unfortunately, this was not the exception that proves the case.

    I also think — perhaps cynically, but more likely realistically — cops aren’t so much determined the police should control the *punishment* as they are the police should determine the *verdict*. IA divisions have long been known as particularly unfortunate two-edged swords, to one side cutting through the public’s insight into the workings of a department and their expectation of a just response when wronged, and to the other often wielded against internal dissidents and whistleblowers and for the continued reign of the current brass. The two sides of the issue Pritchett sees aren’t support for the law versus the desire to be the law’s long arm, it’s indignation at being told in this modern age they are no longer head,-shoulders,-and-chest above the law but only head-and-shoulders, coupled with newfound anxiety over no longer being able simply to moot the question by declaring potentially criminal behavior as outside the rule of law entirely.

  • Brad
    17 November 2016 at 5:24 pm - Reply

    Ouch. Nice post, Mr. Prickett. Of course, I can’t watch the brewhaha over at PO, but I was watching them having the same cow over at the CopTalk forum in GlockTalk. They still seem to think that Castile might be the bankrobber over there.

    I guess the only thing I would add is that seven shots seems like a lot, at least at first blush.

  • Tom H
    17 November 2016 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    A man that didn’t deserve to be, is dead. Killed for no good reason by a government agent. The only thing the hero’s at P1 are concerned about is, was it justified, was it lawful. If they were really protecting us citizens they would be mourning this unnecessary death. Instead, they are worried the DA is trying to ruin the life of the man that killed him.

    I hope that P1 represents the worst of law enforcement. They were right to take their bigotry, racism and just plain stupidity out of the public eye.

  • Standing With Officer James Sanders
    9 December 2016 at 9:03 am - Reply

    […] no “startled by a cop” exemption for hitting the white line, and as Fault Lines contributor and former cop Greg Prickett will tell you, if a police officer wants to legally pull someone over, following them to make them nervous until […]

  • Citizen–Police Review Boards And Accountability
    13 December 2016 at 9:18 am - Reply

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