Saturday, July 09, 2016

Fog of War -- Part Two

Why should we wait to offer two many opinions about the Philando Castile case? I'll give you a few articles that explain why:

First, consider this backgrounder from the Star Tribune:
Their names are still enshrined at their alma mater as Baton of Honor winners.

The faculty at Minnesota State University, Mankato’s law enforcement program chose Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser from about 500 students as the best in their class — an award given to promising future cops for their smarts, respect and leadership qualities.

The longtime classmates and friends-turned-colleagues graduated together in 2010. Two years later, both wore the gun and badge for the St. Anthony Police Department — their first jobs in law enforcement.

They were on duty together Wednesday evening when they pulled over Philando Castile, his passenger, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter in a traffic stop. The encounter would spark grief and outrage across the world after Yanez shot Castile four times as he sat in the driver’s seat — the aftermath broadcast on Facebook by Reynolds.
How does someone go from being the star pupil to being the guy who blew someone away on a traffic stop? Maybe this is the reason:
Olson said on that day three years ago, he expected the St. Anthony officer to stand just behind the driver’s side door at the traffic stop, which is generally standard practice. Instead, the officer stood about 3 feet behind his SUV and conducted the interview through Olson’s driver’s-side mirror.

“His voice had the tremor of fear,” Olson said. “He couldn’t see my hands. He couldn’t see if anyone was in the car. I thought: This is dangerous for both of us.”

Eventually the officer asked Olson for his license and registration, but he couldn’t see Olson while he was digging in the glove box.

“I realized I could have had a grenade on the seat and he’d have no idea,” Olson said.

He eventually got a ticket, but Olson said he was troubled enough that about two years ago he went to talk with John Ohl, who was then St. Anthony’s police chief. He wanted Ohl to provide better training for his officers during traffic stops. Instead, he said Ohl praised the officer.

“I realized he wasn’t listening,” he said.
The Olson in question is Joe Olson, the retired Hamline University law professor who helped to write the state's concealed-carry law, which is very much a bone of contention in this case because:
Philando Castile had a valid permit to carry a gun when he was shot and killed by a St. Anthony police officer, a source confirmed to the Star Tribune Friday.
We've heard that Castile was pulled over for a broken tail light. But is that true?
When Philando Castile was pulled over Wednesday night by officers Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser, purportedly for a broken tail light according to the video account of the aftermath of his being shot and killed by Yanez made by passenger Diamond Reynolds, the officers' real reason for wanting to pull them over and check I.D.s is because they thought he was a robbery suspect, according to scanner audio obtained by KARE 11 NBC TV in Minneapolis.

The station did verify the license plate mentioned was that of the car Castile was driving, and the "locations mentioned also correspond" to the stop. They did not get police to authoritatively state that it was indeed scanner audio preceding the incident.

An officer says "I'm going to stop a car and check I.D.s. I have reason to pull it over, the two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery. The driver looks more like one of our suspects just 'cause of the wide-set nose." A minute and a half later, "shots fired" is said on the audio.
So what do you know about the case, really? I could believe all four stories are true. But what does that mean?

This much I know -- St. Anthony is real to me. The village itself is 100 feet to my right as I write these words. The St. Anthony police have a reputation for being better at writing tickets than solving crimes, but that's a reputation, not necessarily a fact. If you do even a cursory search on Google, you can find all sorts of things about the case, and about Castile himself, that are wildly contradictory. Some of what's out there is most certainly false, but can you sort it out, especially if you're viewing the matter from thousands of miles away?

We don't know anything yet.


Bike Bubba said...

When I read that the deceased had been pulled over 52 times in the past ten years or so, I was reminded of the discussion we had about these things in St. Louis. Suffice it to say that it's a very different experience driving than I've had, and I've driven a fair amount in the big cities of the world. I don't know whether it's the classic "DWB" infraction, or whether it's that some people simply haven't clued in on how to avoid tickets, but something of interest is going on.

Mr. D said...

I don't know whether it's the classic "DWB" infraction, or whether it's that some people simply haven't clued in on how to avoid tickets

There has to be elements of both. That's part of why this case is so difficult to suss out.