Falcon Heights is a small, predominantly white and middle-class city of about 5,500 residents, bordering St. Paul on the northwest. The two officers who stopped them were from the nearby city of St. Anthony, which provides police services under contract to Falcon Heights, and one officer approached Mr. Castile, who was driving, and said he had a broken taillight, Ms. Reynolds, who is also black, said. “He tells us to put our hands in the air, we have our hands in the air,” she said. “At the time as our hands is in the air, he asked for license and registration. “My boyfriend carries all his information in a thick wallet in his right side back pocket. As he’s reaching for his back pocket wallet, he lets the officer know, ‘Officer, I have a firearm on me.’ I began to yell, ‘But he’s licensed to carry.’ After that, he began to take off shots – bah, bah, bah, bah, ‘Don’t move! Don’t move!’ But how can you not move when you’re asking for license and registration? It’s either you want my hands in the air or you want my identification.” [my underlines]This seems to me to be a "perfect storm" of events, assuming this narrative to be correct. If it is correct that Philando was reaching for his identification prior to informing the cop that he had a gun, then I think a jury would find reasonable doubt to acquit. An officer seeing a gun and the person in possession of that gun reaching in that direction, can reasonably infer that his life is in danger and generally doesn't have to wait to be shot in the face to shoot that individual. And to be clear, officers have been shot by people in their cars with wives/girlfriends and whomever else in the car. In addition at that point it was too late for the "he's licensed to carry" because the "reaching" has already occurred. That is, the perceived threat is already in action. That she yelled could have increased the officer's fear. Since I do not own a firearm, nor am I licensed to carry one concealed, I would have to ask those who instruct gun owners whether they are told to inform the officer of the gun on their person PRIOR to reaching for anything or not. It seems to me that if a person has a firearm on their person, legally, they would announce it and ask the officer how they want to proceed. With all this said, unlike Mr. I Don't Follow Directions from yesterday, I think there is a strong wrongful death case here in the minimum. Better communication would likely have prevented this death and if Mr. Castile is in fact licensed to carry then he was breaking no law and he was following the directions given to him by the officer. If there were no warrants pending, then the officer had little reason to be so prepared to shoot which makes for an inquiry about his mental state.
Thursday, July 07, 2016
So this morning the news shows that an officer shot a man in a car during a traffic stop. Report was that there was live streamed Facebook video footage. Thus far the footage does not show the traffic stop from beginning to end. We only see what happens after Philando is shot. Reportedly the couple and their child were stopped for having a broken taillight. The NY Times reports the following: