Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The jury got it right, it seems


He was charged with second degree manslaughter and the jury found him not guilty.

One of the defense attorneys said the verdict was correct, twice.

It was a legitimate traffic stop for broken tail-lights that went way wrong.

After an initial brief but perfectly civil, correct, and polite exchange between the cop and the driver during which the cop explained the reason for the stop and asked to see a license and registration, Castile, also politely, told the officer he was carrying a firearm and had a license to carry.

The officer politely and with no indication of being concerned or alarmed, said, "OK. Don't reach for it, then."

But then the officer draws his gun as he repeatedly, rapidly, and with increasing alarm and volume cries "Don't pull it out! Don't pull it out!"

Then he fires three or four times into the car.

The girlfriend said Castile was reaching for ID, and you hear her say that to the officer after the shots are fired.
[Update. I have seen reports claiming that Castile was reaching for his ID and was actually saying so as he did it. I don't hear that on the tape, and clearly the officer didn't hear it, if that actually happened.]
Reportedly, the officer saw Castile's hand on the handle of his gun, or thinks he did.

I have seen nothing in the news about where the gun actually was, which might throw light on whether Castile even could plausibly have been reaching for it.

But in any case the officer was not told where the gun was before the shooting.

Castile had just told the officer he had a gun when he started reaching - digging around? - for something.

It was not unreasonable to suppose, and absolutely not unreasonable to fear, that he was reaching for the gun.

It is possible, of course, Castile was reaching for his gun but with no malign intent.

But a cop who tells you not to reach for your gun cannot merely hope your intent is harmless if you nevertheless reach for it.

The city fired the cop, anyway, though according to MSNBC they gave him a nice package and promised to help him move on into another career, perhaps working for the city.

Just to stave off riots and inflammation of racial tensions?

At any time as the cop was crying out, "Don't pull it out!" Castile could and should have held up two empty hands, stopped moving, and waited for things to settle down.

Why didn't he?

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