On Friday, a jury in Minnesota found that a police officer was not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Philando Castile.
CNN reported that his stunned mother audibly gasped after the verdict was read, and later told reporters:
“[N]owhere in the world do you die from being honest and telling the truth.
The system continues to fail black people. My son loved this city and this city killed my son and the murderer gets away! Are you kidding me right now?
We're not evolving as a civilization, we're devolving. We're going back down to 1969. What is it going to take?”
She wasn’t the only one who was surprised. People who remembered the graphic Facebook live video and audio of the police stop in which Castile told the police officer he was a concealed carry permit holder, but was reaching for his driver’s license, sounded off.
Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who live streamed the video, issued a statement saying she was “incredibly disappointed” in the verdict:
The Washington Post reported that the Congressional Black Caucus said the verdict told blacks that “the Second Amendment does not apply to them.”
Oregon Firearms Federation Director Kevin Starrett remembered that Facebook video and told Independent Journal Review that it “scared the crap out of me”:
“I could not come up with justification for it except, the cops are scared all the time. I’m an old white guy and I might be treated differently. I understand cop mentality and how scary it is. You don’t want to move, yet you’re trying to obey the cop telling you to get your drivers license."
Maj Toure of Black Guns Matter believes there is a racial overlay in this case, but told IJR that if you concentrate only on that, you’re missing the bigger picture:
"Black people with firearms are almost always presented as a criminal.
It’s problematic and systemic. There’s a myriad of ways to prove bigotry or bias. I’m careful not to throw out racism. However, if fear is a consistent theme, and people are treated as if they are enemy combatants, that’s tyranny.
If you just call it racism, you miss the tyranny."
Starrett teaches concealed carry courses twice a month in Oregon and told IJR that, even though you’re not required to tell officers in Oregon that you’re carrying, it’s a hotly debated topic during “every class”:
"I hear an equal number of horror stories either way. I’ve been pulled over at least four times, and, one time, I got out of my car and met the officer so he wouldn’t see my gun and freak out.
My wife and sister have been pulled over for traffic violations, and it’s always a question ‘do I tell them?’ My wife told the officer she had a gun and got a ticket and my sister said it was none of his business and got off with a warning.
There’s no right answer to this question because cops are people. Some of them are nuts."
The Star Tribune reported that Minnesota law does not require CHL holders to offer the information that they have their guns unless asked by an officer:
Under Minnesota law, you do not have to disclose that you are carrying a firearm during a traffic stop unless you are asked, said Bryan Strawser, executive director of the Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. However, if asked, carriers must answer truthfully and provide their permit to carry, along with identification.
And this is where Toure sees an issue — and a possible solution.
On one hand, Officer Jeronimo Yanez told Castile to get his driver’s license, and Castile reached to get it, explaining that he was also a CHL holder and had his gun but wasn’t reaching for it. That freaked the officer out and within seconds he was shooting — seven shots into the car containing Castile, his girlfriend, and Castile's 4-year-old daughter.
Toure criticized Yanez for having “poor trigger discipline.” In speeches and trainings throughout the country, Toure tells people not to "use furtive movements” and always ask one question that could save a life:
“How would you like me to proceed?”
The clarifying question, “how would you like me to proceed?” might have calmed the cop and kept Castile alive as he followed the officer’s orders. Maybe.
Toure told IJR that he wants people in “urban areas to know this. This [police shooting] is the very definition of tyranny. That is an un-American non-justifiable response.”
The nation’s oldest civil rights and gun advocacy organization, the National Rifle Association, has not issued a statement about the verdict.
After his acquittal Friday, the St. Anthony Police Department issued a statement saying they were firing Yanez.