Thursday, November 17, 2016

Charges in Castile Case

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi made his decision yesterday -- Jeronimo Yanez will face charges in the shooting of Philando Castile:
Philando Castile’s fatal encounter last July with St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez lasted only a minute, but quickly escalated from a “respectful and compliant” exchange to one steeped in confusion and fear.

In an extraordinary move by a Minnesota prosecutor, authorities said the officer, not the civilian, is to blame for the tragic events that turned a traffic stop in a Twin Cities suburb into a flash point in the national debate over racial profiling and police use of force.

Yanez pulled Castile, a 32-year-old, over at 9:05 p.m. July 9 on Larpenteur Avenue near Fry Street in Falcon Heights. By 9:06 p.m., the young officer had fired seven shots into Castile’s car, killing him as his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter watched.

For those actions, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said at a news conference Wednesday morning, Yanez will be charged with three felony counts — second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. He’s the first Minnesota officer charged in an on-duty killing in modern memory.
The number seven matters here, because it suggests that Yanez panicked. I am guessing the charge of second-degree manslaughter is designed to get a plea agreement. The definition of second-degree manslaughter is here:
A person who causes the death of another by any of the following means is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both:
(1) by the person's culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another; or(2) by shooting another with a firearm or other dangerous weapon as a result of negligently believing the other to be a deer or other animal; or
(3) by setting a spring gun, pit fall, deadfall, snare, or other like dangerous weapon or device; or
(4) by negligently or intentionally permitting any animal, known by the person to have vicious propensities or to have caused great or substantial bodily harm in the past, to run uncontrolled off the owner's premises, or negligently failing to keep it properly confined; or
(5) by committing or attempting to commit a violation of section 609.378 (neglect or endangerment of a child), and murder in the first, second, or third degree is not committed thereby.
If proven by a preponderance of the evidence, it shall be an affirmative defense to criminal liability under clause (4) that the victim provoked the animal to cause the victim's death.
Emphasis mine. The key word is unreasonable. What will a jury decide is reasonable? A lot hangs on the decision. I am, as I write this, about 100 feet away from St. Anthony Village. I will be watching events closely.


Gino said...

cops almost never shoot once. they are trained to keep firing until the threat is removed. so, that seven times thing is nothing, really.

Bike Bubba said...

I'm with Gino on the number of shots. The police do not try to injure like Roy Rogers; by the time they draw their gun and pull the trigger, they have decided (rightly or wrongly) that the person shows a lethal threat and they will shoot until that threat stops. So the surprise is not that seven rounds left that pistol, but rather that 15 did not.

Really, the question is not whether seven rounds should have left that pistol, but rather one. We'll see what the evidence and the jury say.

Mr. D said...

I’ll defer to you guys on the number of shots; the reason I wondered about it is he was shooting from point-blank range.

But one thing to consider; by firing 7 shots, he ran the risk of shooting the girlfriend and the daughter in the back seat, which would have made this scenario a whole lot worse. And that’s almost certainly why the additional charges were filed.

Bike Bubba said...

Nah, he endangered the girlfriend and the child from the first shot. You could get additional charges if he reloaded, or if the sounds were in the back, but the charges are because the prosecutor thinks shot #1 is not justified. You'd see the same thing with a carry permit holder, really, and the prosecutor is not going to risk the wrath of the police union by filing a case he knows is marginal. That he leaves to the USDOJ, sad to say.

Picture from my carry permit training; man fishing in Alaska sees brown bear/grizzly who wants salmon, too. A minute later, his friends shook him because he was still pulling the trigger on an empty chamber while the bear was dead a few feet from him. Once the threshold of "kill or be killed" is crossed, things go nonlinear real quick.

Bike Bubba said...

Or if the SHOTS were in the back. Oops.. :^)