NRA

NRA-TV Host: Cop Who Killed Philando Castile 'Screwed Up Big Time'

"Yanez walking away from this case a free and clear man is just wrong," says Colion Noir.

|

NRA-TV

After I filed my column about the NRA's response to the shooting of Philando Castile (or lack thereof), Colion Noir, a lawyer and prominent NRA member who hosts an NRA-TV show, posted some interesting and perceptive comments about the case on Facebook. Although I don't think Noir's personal observations qualify as an official response from the NRA, I suspect his views are shared by many of the organization's members:

In the case of officer Jeronimo Yanez [who shot Castile], I don't feel he woke up that day wanting to shoot a black person. However, I keep asking myself, would he have done the same thing if Philando were white? As I put on my Monday morning quarterback jersey, it is my opinion that Philando Castile should be alive today. I believe there was a better way to handle the initial stop. If he suspected Philando was a suspect in a robbery, there were ways to conduct that stop in a way that would have completely avoided the shooting altogether, but Yanez neglected to do so.

Beyond that point, things get a little fuzzy for me. Other than Yanez's testimony, there is nothing I read about the trial or any newly revealed facts to suggest that Philando was going for his gun. However, I don't know what Yanez saw that made him think Philando was going for the gun, I wasn't there, and I only have his words to go by. Sadly, Philando isn't here to tell us other than his last dying statement of, "I wasn't reaching for it."

Personally, I feel because Yanez pulled Philando over under the suspicion that he was a robbery suspect coupled with the presence of a gun, it put Yanez in a heightened state. I feel he lost control of his wits and overreacted. This now brings me to the question of race. Do I think Yanez felt threatened by the fact that Philando was black? It's very possible Yanez was indifferent about Philando's race. However, because of the negative stereotype reinforced in the media about black men and guns, it wouldn't completely surprise me if Yanez felt more threatened by Philando because he was black. This is the same negative stereotype that I've been trying to combat for years now.

Legally, I'm left asking myself, was Yanez failing to conduct a proper felony stop reckless or negligent enough to warrant a Second Degree Manslaughter conviction? As a lawyer, I'm hard pressed to think so. But the young black male in me says hell yes. Admittedly, I don't have all the facts the jury had; I didn't hear the testimony the jury heard. Maybe after hearing his testimony they believe Yanez honestly felt his life was in danger and justifiably so. However, I have to be honest and say, he shouldn't be able to just walk away freely without legal consequence. I just don't know what that consequence should be….

In my eyes, Yanez screwed up big time. I don't feel he was out to take a black life that day, but it doesn't matter because his actions cost Phliando his life. My legal mind can see why they couldn't get to Manslaughter in the Second Degree based solely on the facts at hand, but Yanez walking away from this case a free and clear man is just wrong.

I mostly agree with Noir, except that I have less trouble concluding that Yanez was guilty of second-degree manslaughter. Under Minnesota law, a conviction required proof of "culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another." If Yanez "screwed up big time," if he "lost control of his wits and overreacted," which led directly to Castile's death, his actions certainly seem to fit the statutory definition. As prosecutor Jeff Paulsen put it in his closing argument, "Yanez used deadly force as a first option rather than a last resort, and because he was so reckless he's guilty of culpable negligence."

NEXT: Republicans Win in Georgia, Obamacare Repeal Moves Forward, and People Really Do Not Like Chris Christie: A.M. Links

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Once again, as with almost every one of these shootings, we should not be focusing on the individual cop. He should have never been a cop to begin with if he was this scared, and his training and police behavior policies should never have even led to this situation.

    Police policies are made by unaccountable police unions who resist even the simplest reforms and foster a culture of fear among cops, training them as if every single encounter will lead to death, despite overwhelming statistical evidence that is not the case. This is where we need to focus, not on individual cops. I know it might not be popular here, and many cops are truly just belligerent dangerous assholes, but many officers are failed by the entire American policing system, and wind up in situations like this by acting mostly how they were taught.

    1. many officers are failed by the entire American policing system, and wind up in situations like this by acting mostly how they were taught

      There’s no draft in the cop business, they don’t shanghai random citizens into the force. Every cop that’s there made a deliberate voluntary choice to be there and I always gotta question what sorts of persons volunteer for the job. I have no doubt that there’s a certain percentage that just kind of fell into the job and a certain percentage that truly see their job as protecting and serving but I’m also pretty sure there’s a disproportionate percentage of them that see a gun and a badge as a way to get a paycheck for being a legal thug. Just as child molesters tend to drift toward jobs where they’ll have an opportunity to molest children and people who love chemistry tend to drift toward jobs that involve chemistry.

      1. I said it’s not a popular opinion. lol. But I also said I know there are a lot of thug cops.

    2. and his training

      Tells him that his life is more valuable than the average citizen. And he will not be held accountable for his actions. These are the problems.

      1. That is exactly what they are taught and how police culture functions.

  2. …and I only have his words to go by.

    There was another witness and the victim’s statement right before the killing.

    1. Yeah, not sure why people keep talking about it as if the cop is the only surviving witness.

      1. As it says in the Copran, the testimony of a civvie is only half that of a hero in blue.

  3. Once he informed the officer he had a gun, instead of saying don’t reach for it he should have told him to put both hands on the steering wheel. I’m sure the guy was probably reaching for his wallet like we all do when we get pulled over which the cop would well be aware of.

    1. Not that you should have to, but my driver ed teacher taught us to keep our hands on the wheel, and when the cop asks for license and registration to go “my license is in my wallet, may I get it?” “my registration is in my glove compartment, may I get it?” etc.

      Having done it RL, it’s utterly ridiculous, but when dealing with unaccountable rage monsters, you can’t be too careful.

      1. I get nervous when a cop pulls me over for a burned out tail light. And I’m a boring, middle-aged, white guy. I can easily imagine the stress a black guy with a gun (albeit legally carried) might be under when pulled over by an agitated cop. My ears would be ringing so much that I’m not sure I’d hear and/or understand what I was told even if it were in a calm voice, let along shouted at me.

      2. Yeah, I keep both hands on my steering wheel until asked for my license and registration.

      3. Also, from firearm instructor, you don’t say “I have a gun” because it’s going to short circuit their little piggy brain and they’ll interpret it as a threat. Instead you hand them you carry permit with your license and wait for them to ask you if you’re armed.

        1. That might work in your state, but there are apparently some states where people are legally required to notify a police officer immediately if they are armed.

            1. Ah, see, I’m in PA, which is an “only if asked” state.

        2. Another thing I’ve heard some people say is that if you are carrying or even have a gun in the car, to put both hands out the car window where the cop can clearly see them and that they’re empty* and then calmly and politely inform them that you have a gun on you or in the car. Then if he asks you to get out the car, do so with your hands raised and in clear view and let him take the gun and hang on to it during the rest of the stop.

          It sucks that you have to go through so much trouble to avoid being murdered by some panicky, unaccountable asshole, but like I said below, you have to treat cops the same you would a nervous or fearful wild animal.

          *Not only the cop, but also his dash cam will show that your hands are clearly empty and you aren’t making any kind of furtive movements whatsoever. That way if the panicky little bitch still shoots you at least it will be clear to the mouth breathers on the jury that the cop is full of shit when he tries to claim he thought you were reaching for a gun.

          1. Yeah. There will be dashcam footage.

      4. when dealing with unaccountable rage monsters, you can’t be too careful.

        This. You also have to make sure that every move you make is slow and deliberate. It’s like dealing with a fearful and nervous wild animal. Don’t make any sudden movements that might spook them.

      5. Having done it RL, it’s utterly ridiculous, but when dealing with unaccountable rage monsters, you can’t be too careful.

        I’m fairly certain that, more than once, answering “Yes.” to questions like “Do you have a license and registration?” or “Are you aware of why I pulled you over?” has been the cause of greater friction or tension rather than an alleviation of it. Moreover, careful implies an awareness of things that may not be possible to know.

        Just recently I got a warning for driving 61 in a 55 just off an interstate highway as an out-of-state motorist at 4:00 a.m.. The fact that I (with my baseball hat on) looked down at my GPS right as I passed the officer like I was trying to hide my face caused him to light me up. When the officer asked if I knew why he pulled me over, I think the “Yes.” surprised him and the admission to speeding turned out to be a mutually-understood pretense or contributing factor. Not that I routinely chat with officers who pull me over, but I removed my hat before he got to the window and he pointed out that my license doesn’t indicate my hair color (issued by my home state so, WTF am I supposed to do about it?). In any event, misunderstandings abounded.

      6. Do this myself. Think it got me a warning once instead of a ticket. It was late and on a dark street and I think the cop appreciated it; I was going 15 over.

        Other reason to do this other then worrying about being shot is so they don’t have grounds (invented accuse) to search your car. I have seen where they use the fact that someone was reaching around their car as grounds to search when they were just getting their license and registration out. Presumably thinking everyone is stashing narcotics in the minute before the cop gets out of their car.

  4. “because of the negative stereotype reinforced in the media about black men and guns”

    By media do you mean rap videos or the daily news?

    1. mainly funny or die videos starring Sarah Silverman

  5. The NRA is a HUGE organization. And OLD, HUGE organization.

    Nimble, it is not, nor can it be.

    What it is is deliberate. That also means they are slow.

    The response to this, if it does come (they might decide that no response is the best course of action), will come after time for several people to consider the case, the video, and the trial.

    Wayne LaPierre isn’t the CEO of some digital start-up and can make decisions like this alone.

    Honestly, I like that the NRA doesn’t do “hot takes”. Maybe they’ll get this one wrong or maybe they’ll get this one right, but it won’t be because they rushed into a reaction.

    Note how nuanced Mr. Noir’s take is, too. I think he’s reflecting the NRA’s culture even with his relative “hot take” here.

    1. Plus, they had to choose between cops and their members here, so it took them a while to figure out how to thread the needle.

    2. The NRA should revert back to the best reason for the 2nd amendment.

      If they were not so scared of the government, and I don’t blame them for being so; they should simply state that overbearing and frightening police state is the most important reason to have an armed citizenry as a last defense against tyranny.

      I think you are right. They should refrain from saying anything because Trump is not to be trusted as a non-stater.

    3. Nimble, it is not, nor can it be.

      The NRA waits for the facts.
      What the news media produces during the first days after an event is usually factually challenged enough that any response is premature.

  6. First, sadly.

    1. Damn your quick fingers.

  7. If he suspected Philando was a suspect in a robbery, there were ways to conduct that stop in a way that would have completely avoided the shooting altogether, but Yanez neglected to do so.

    because Yanez pulled Philando over under the suspicion that he was a robbery suspect

    What happened to the “if” in that second statement? Is there a recording of the dispatch communications where the cop radioed in that he was stopping a robbery suspect or was this something he only claimed afterwards? Looking at that tape, the cop sure does seem awfully casual about approaching what he believes to be an armed robber, especially for such a pants-wetter as he turned out to be.

    1. Is there a recording of the dispatch communications where the cop radioed in that he was stopping a robbery suspect

      I believe he did. I saw it in one of the transcripts.

    2. “If he suspected Philando was a suspect in a robbery,”

      What’s sad is that once he wet his pants, he was no longer able to suspect that Philando was an innocent citizen.

  8. Do people actually still read the NYT. All it is good for is lining bird cages

    1. -1,000,000 for being someone who doesn’t do crossword puzzles

      1. Psst…other newspapers have crossword puzzles now.

        1. charlatans.

  9. hands on the wheel and everyone lives.

    1. Just consent to us searching your vehicle for you license and registration for you and everything will be okay.

      1. nobody said that.

        1. nobody said that.

          Any suggestion that Castile didn’t start out with his hands on the wheel? The officer asks “Do you have a license and registration?” Should he have answered, “Yes.” and simply left his hands on the wheel? There were a couple of clear misunderstandings and a couple of unnecessary escalations on the part of officer Yanez. I don’t think “hands on the wheel” is a bad idea, but I think the problems with this specific incident weren’t Castile’s and were likely larger than either Castile or Yanez.

          Thus my point; either I’m a prick and take my hands off the wheel when the officer asks me if I have a license and registration or I’m a prick and just answer the officer’s question rather than understanding their intent. No matter what I do, I’m the prick. The only way I’m not the prick is if I hold absolutely still and let any all constitutional rights be violated willy-nilly, like a corpse.

          1. The only way I’m not the prick is if I hold absolutely still

            Even then, there are plenty of cops who will freely tell you that this qualifies as suspicious behavior.

  10. If this tragedy teaches the public anything, it is this: NEVER tell a cop that you’re armed.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.