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Pot Is No More Relevant to the Shooting of Philando Castile Than It Is to the Shooting of Botham Jean

An NRA spokesperson correctly says marijuana is not "germane" to Jean's death but keeps bringing it up when discussing Castile's.

FacebookFacebookWhen the Fox station in Dallas highlighted the marijuana found in shooting victim Botham Jean's apartment, the tweet drew criticism from the left and the right. Especially striking was a comment from Dana Loesch, the conservative TV and radio host who also serves as a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association. "How is this germane to what happened?" she asked.

Good question. Since Jean was killed in his own home by Amber Guyger, an off-duty Dallas police officer who said she mistook his apartment for hers and him for a burglar, the fact that Guyger's colleagues later found 10.4 grams of marijuana there has no bearing on her criminal culpability, as Joe Setyon noted earlier today. Yet Loesch seems to take a different view of marijuana's relevance in the case of Philando Castile, the driver who was shot and killed by St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a 2016 traffic stop. Loesch, whose position on whether a jury was right to acquit Yanez of manslaughter is hard to pin down, has repeatedly brought up Castile's cannabis consumption, although it's not clear why.

Dashcam video of the incident shows that Yanez panicked after Castile, who had a concealed carry permit, calmly said, "Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me." Yanez told him not to reach for his weapon, Castile assured him that he would not, and within a few seconds Yanez drew his gun and fired seven rounds, mortally wounding Castile. The evidence, including the testimony of Castile's girlfriend, who was in the car at the time, indicated that Castile was trying to retrieve his driver's license, which Yanez had asked to see.

The fact that marijuana was later found in Castile's car is irrelevant to the question of whether the shooting was justified, which depends on whether Yanez reasonably feared for his life. Yet while discussing the case on Twitter last year, Loesch said Castile was "in possession of a controlled substance and a firearm simultaneously, which is illegal." Although "possession of a controlled substance while armed" is a distinct offense in some states, Minnesota does not seem to be one of them. But Minnesota law, like federal law, does prohibit "an unlawful user of any controlled substance" from possessing a gun in any setting or circumstance. Loesch's point seemed to be that, contrary to what some critics of Yanez's acquittal have claimed, Castile's actions were not fully consistent with the law: Even though he had a carry permit, as a cannabis consumer he was barred from owning a gun. That's true, but it has nothing to do with the legality of Yanez's actions.

On her radio show this week, Loesch again mentioned Castile's marijuana, saying, "It didn't help after, and it came out, that he had pot in the car." Again, the pot in Castile's car has no more bearing on the legality of Yanez's actions than the pot in Jean's apartment has on the legality of Guyger's actions. Loesch also implied that Castile bore responsibility for his own death by asserting that the dashcam video shows him "grabbing [his] waistband 10 times" after Yanez told him not to. "That's what happened in the video," she said. "It made that already nervous, new cop even more nervous, and that's why he pulled the trigger." But the video does not show Castile reaching for his waistband even once, because it does not show what is happening inside the car.

The Atlantic's Adam Serwer, citing those comments, says "Loesch defends Castile's shooting as justified." I'm not sure that's accurate, since Loesch also said, "No one's saying that fatal force was required." That statement is ambiguous, since it leaves open the possibility that Yanez reasonably feared Castile was about to shoot him, even though Castile had no such intent. Loesch seems determined to obscure the legal issue at the center of Yanez's trial, and that fuzziness seems to suit the organization she represents, which has been notably reluctant to comment on the shooting.

Loesch's perspective on Jean's shooting is much clearer. "The Fourth Amendment does not give an off-duty officer the right to enter your home without a warrant and use fatal force against you because they made a mistake," she observed on her radio show. The day before on her NRA-TV show, Loesch suggested that Guyger, whose apartment is located directly below Jean's, should have known she was in the wrong place. Loesch also suggested that Jean, if he had been armed, would have been justified in shooting Guyger. "This could have been very different if Botham Jean had been...a law-abiding gun owner and he saw somebody coming into his apartment," she said. "If I see somebody coming into my house and I'm not expecting them and they're walking in like they own the place, I would...act to defend myself."

Serwer sees that statement as evidence of "the NRA's Catch-22 for black men shot by police." While "scolding dead people for being unarmed is standard procedure for the NRA," he says, "the NRA's conspicuous lack of outrage after the shootings of Philando Castile, Jason Washington, and Alton Sterling, all black men killed by police while in possession of a firearm, suggests an impossible double standard."

It is not fair to describe Loesch's comments about Jean as "scolding"; if anything, she was empathizing with him. But those 10.3 grams of marijuana do complicate Loesch's position: If he was a cannabis consumer, Jean, like Castile, could not be "a law-abiding gun owner." He was not legally allowed to own the gun that Loesch thinks might have saved his life. Depriving people of the constitutional right to armed self-defense for such trivial reasons is an issue that you might think would interest an organization whose raison d'être is defending the Second Amendment.

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  • Cy||

    I honestly don't know why these weren't the straws that broke the camels back. What will it actually take for something to change?

  • SQRLSY One||

    "How is this germane to what happened?"

    The germanes did not believe that guns in the hands of ANYONE, besides employees of Government Almighty, made ANY sense at ALL... To wit...

    http://www.brainyquote.com/aut.....ch_himmler
    "Germanes who wish to use firearms should join the SS or the SA - ordinary citizens don't need guns, as their having guns doesn't serve the State." Heinrich Himmler

    Is THAT germane enough for ye?!?!?

  • OEPYZ||

    Try kneeling during the national anthem. Oh wait. That pisses people off.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    What camel's back? Take the total number of police shootings directly resulting in unjustifiable civilian fatalities in any given year this decade. No, it shouldn't happen, but it does and will so long as relatively inexperienced cops have to confront civilians (Castile, Diamond). What has to change are a couple of things. First, the media has to do its job in keeping all this in perspective and not mindlessly buying into the BLM narrative. And second, those of us who generally support the police need to be forthright in acknowledging when something inexplicably wrong has happened instead of just making excuses for the officer involved. There is a middle ground: law enforcement officers generally do a difficult job well, but there are always a few who step outside the lines and when that happens they must face the consequences.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    "And second, those of us who generally support the police need to be forthright in acknowledging when something inexplicably wrong has happened instead of just making excuses for the officer involved."

    The police themselves need to stop doing this.

    As for those who still generally support the police, you also need to recognize that cops who make excuses for officers who engage in misconduct are themselves doing something inexplicably wrong, they are also stepping outside the lines. And that's not just a few officers, that's nearly all of them.

  • Zeb||

    I'm not sure I'm convinced that being a cop is, overall, a difficult job, or that it is generally done well.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    What's Amber Guyger's immigration status? And was she menstruating at the time of the shooting?

  • SQRLSY One||

    Also, was her gun and ammo American-made, helping to provide good jobs for good Americans? Or did she use a foreign-made gun and ammo, providing jobs for un-American non-people?

  • ||

    Also, was her gun and ammo American-made, helping to provide good jobs for good Americans?

    Was she herself an NRA member? If the gun manufacturer is an American company, should they be held legally culpable?

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Inquiring minds...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Loesch, whose position on whether a jury was right to acquit Yanez of manslaughter is hard to pin down, has repeatedly brought up Castile's cannabis consumption, although it's not clear why.

    Because she's a hack?

  • ||

    Because she's a hack?

    Hack? She's a spokesperson. 'Hack!' makes it sound like she's supposed to be reporting honestly somehow. She is who she is because of the NRA, that's why we're even aware of who she is.

    How about because Castille was actually armed. Not that I think the suspicion was justified, but Castille was suspected of a crime. I'm pretty sure it's possible to think Yanez should've been convicted of manslaughter and not think the Jean and Castille cases or comparable or that one is far more egregious than the other. From there, it's not that difficult to imagine that somebody might think one cop is guilty while the other is innocent. That one deserves just to lose his job while the other deserves to go to jail.

  • croaker||

    "Depriving people of the constitutional right to armed self-defense for such trivial reasons is an issue that you might think would interest an organization whose raison d'être is defending the Second Amendment."

    That's because you make the mistake of considering the NRA a Second Amendment Rights organization.

    They are not.

    They are, first and foremost, copsuckers.

  • Jerryskids||

    The NRA is one of the nation's largest and most powerful gun control lobbies. They support "reasonable" gun control laws just like the rest of them, they just differ somewhat on the definition of what's reasonable. But once you agree that "Congress shall make no law..." really means "Congress shall make no unreasonable law..." you've already lost the argument. Our Founding Fathers wisely decided it's better that everybody be allowed to have a gun rather than that somebody should be trusted with the power to decide who gets to have a gun.

    And the same thing applies to all the rest of your rights - freedom unfortunately includes the freedom to do bad or stupid things but who would you trust to decide what's bad or stupid? Anyone mad enough to think they're fit to wield such power is the very last person you should wish to see with any sort of power.

  • ||

    But once you agree that "Congress shall make no law..." really means "Congress shall make no unreasonable law..." you've already lost the argument.

    That's a step further than being a part of the unreasonable minority. I'd rather have people like LaPierre saying things like "…the semiauto-auto ban gives jack-booted government thugs more power to take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us." than not and as the GOA's ranks swell, what constitutes unreasonable law approaches any law.

  • BambiB||

    The NRA has enough people who hate them for simply standing up for the right to keep and bear arms. Historically, they've actually approved some gun control (NFA 1934, GCA 1968) but in the past 20-30 years they seem to have finally realized that there's no such thing as "reasonable" gun control because eventually it all gets used to disarm the People.
    The NRA is very careful about which cases it supports. When the Heller case was filed in DC, the NRA went nuts, tried to file a parallel case and take over Heller. Why? Not because they didn't approve of the case. Not because they wanted to "grab the glory". They were terrified that the person bringing the case might lose setting a bad precedent for the rest of time. The NRA is basically afraid of doing anything that might sabotage their position. They're highly risk-averse. And frankly, even a lot of their members don't seem to get the Second Amendment's intent (that the People should always be able to overthrow the government).
    The Guyger case isn't much of a risk. Who would ever think that a cop entering someone else's home and shooting them for no discernible reason is justified? It's a safe call. And while I think Castille was murdered by someone who should never have been a cop, I can see that it's a riskier call. And so can the NRA.

  • ||

    Cop shoots innocent man in own home. Search for and discover of Marijuana is irrelevant. NRA talking head's flip flopping on marijuana is.

    Fuck. Off.

  • Mongo||

    I always tell people that if other organizations and advocacy groups had an attack dog mentality like the NRAs 2A stance then we wouldn't have 1A issues and other pick-and-choose approaches with other amendments.

    I then follow up stating that it's obvious that the NRA is scared shitless of blacks whenever gun incidents involving them occur.

  • R-Dub||

    Obvious? To whom? Are you a member? Do you read their monthly publications?

    I am a member. I read their monthly publications which contain - on a nearly monthly basis - articles defending blacks whose 2A rights have been trod upon. Let me know if you want citations as proof. Happy to provide.

  • Mongo||

    You and many others know about the NRA freakout with the Black Panthers in California under Gov. Reagan.
    Phil Castile is another (obvious) PR fumble by the NRA.
    (A local black cat - Lucky Rosenbloom - is an outspoken, staunch conservative and NRA supporter, btw)

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    "You and many others know about the NRA freakout with the Black Panthers & HELLS ANGELS in California under Gov. Reagan." FTFY

    Someone might think you purposely left the Hells Angels out to reinforce some singular bullshit racism angle.

  • Jerry B.||

    You bring up something that happened over 40 years ago? Democrats were still the racists back then.

  • Naaman Brown||

    I remember when the NRA supported Robert F. Williams of Monroe North Carolina.
    I believe Ashley Halsey Jr had an article in the Saturday Evening Post on it.
    I do remember TRB in The New Republic painted that as the NRA giving guns to black nationalists.

  • BambiB||

    And yet it was the NRA which took the lead in helping blacks arm themselves in the era of Jim Crow. When most social clubs slammed their doors in the faces of blacks, the NRA welcomed them. And in some cases, it was members of the NRA perched on rooftops with blacks in the sweltering dead of a Summer night waiting for the KKK to make an appearance.

    The NRA has always been pro law-and-order. But it's also come round to understanding that sometimes law is unconstitutional - and when it is, they tend to side with the Constitution.

  • Rob Misek||

    Drugs are relevant when the police say the person acted irrationally. It's a policeman's word against someone under the influence.

    The problem is that we have the technology to eliminate ambiguity but refuse to develop and use it.

    We need to have the basic human right to voluntarily record everything we witness everywhere we go all the time.

    No more ambiguity. No more corruption.

  • Zeb||

    You get to act however you want to in your own home. People are quite capable of behaving irrationally with or without drugs.

  • Naaman Brown||

    NRA lack of a stand on Philandro Castille has come up before.

    If NRA defended Philandro Castille, the gun control groups would have made him their poster boy for the meme of the NRA supporting the right of pot heads to go around armed, supporting a man who feloniously lied on a 4473 gun transaction form and lied on a gun carry permit application about not being a user of a federally controlled substance. Banning guns from pot heads was a centerpiece of the reasonable common-sense 1968 Gun Control Act. If NRA dared speak out for Philandro Castille, the tweets were written, the op-eds were scripted, the talking points were prepped and ready: the NRA for handing out guns to dangerous drug addicts.

    When NRA and ACLU objected to placing social security recipients who had a fiduciary handling their finances on the NICS prohibited person list without adjudication as mentally ill or a danger to self or others, the anti-gunners went whole hogg painting the NRA as wanting dangerous mental cases to own guns. And they bring it up as a talking point. And when Trump reversed that policy, the left cited that as an example of the extremist NRA thwarting commom sense gun control. The left applaudes HGW Bush for dumping the NRA for criticizing Ruby Ridge and Waco. NRA knows what the anti-gun media has prepared. I think NRA is holding out for a defendant as clean as Heller or McDonald.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Shorter Naaman Brown:

    The NRA is a bunch of copsuckers (and good for them!). If the cops don't like it, the NRA will not say it. If you smoke pot, you are not allowed to defend yourself. Go ahead and be murdered, like a sheep led to the slaughter... Pot smoker lives are not worth defending!

  • MikeP2||

    The crazy is strong with you young padawan. Go forth and rant.

  • JoeBlow123||

    I think the point he was trying to make is the word is often a nuanced place and organizations have to pick their battles and sometimes must try and navigate battlefields where they will lose no matter what they do.

    Clearly this went over your head with your nonsensical reply.

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    "...supporting a man who feloniously lied on a 4473 gun transaction form and lied on a gun carry permit application about not being a user of a federally controlled substance. "

    And you say that because the "yous" would only make that assertion based on good evidence as to exactly when he started using marijuana, amirite? I know, he was supposed to have been a good serf and turned his gun in after being overwhelmed with the reefer madness.

    I do agree with the rest of your argument. It's just BS that the rights strippers get to define the argument with a bullshit definition of "reasonable" and no carve out for exceptions that should be expected and tolerated because it's a right and all.

    Does a drunk person not deserve the full protection of the 1st amendment at all times because they are less inhibited to yell "Fire" in a crowded theater or spew fighting words than a sober person.

  • Ron||

    The difference is it is illegal to carry a gun while carrying pot which makes his conceal carry permit invalid.

  • Exsqueezeyou||

    Ron says, "The difference is it is illegal to carry a gun while carrying pot which makes his conceal carry permit invalid and everyone knows that merits execution on the spot." FTFY

    Thanks for the distinction without a difference.

    No law is valid if it requires me in any way to waive any fundamentally protected right in order to exercise and other right or alleged privilege.

  • UnrepentantCurmudgeon||

    And so what? Was the incident a result of the cop inquiring into the validity of his permit? Was Guyger even aware that Jean had a gun in the apartment, was in possession of pot, or might have had an invalid warrant? No. Her explanation of the incident was perhaps the ultimate dipshit defense: I thought his apartment, on a different floor than mine with its own special key, was mine because the door was ajar because I, a safety-conscious cop, leave my door ajar routinely. Things that are discovered after the fact that had nothing to do with cause and effect in the situation itself are completely irrelevant no matter how you slice it.

  • rajpe||

    I wonder whether any readers will disagree with the following three facts(?):

    1. Marijuana is a drug that affects the brain.
    2. Some drugs have unanticipated side-effects.
    3. Some drugs affect different races differently.

    Given the above facts (on which there seems to be general agreement), please Google these names:
    1. Michael Brown, 2. Sandra Bland, 3. Trayvon Martin, and Levy Pongi.

    Each of these African-Americans after ingesting marijuana became suicidal and subsequently died. For example: Michael Brown attacked an armed policeman twice in the space of a couple of minutes (almost the definition of suicidal behavior). Levy Pongi was a medical student, who ingested marijuana, returned to his hotel room and jumped out of the window, killing himself.

    It may be a fact that marijuana ingestion makes some African-Americans suicidal. Research is needed on this!

  • SQRLSY One||

    Some dope-smoking African-Americans show their suicidal tendencies by admitting confused (and possibly drunken) cop-ladies to their apartments, when cop-ladies bang on their doors. Their suicidal tendencies are demonstrated by the fact that they trust bangers-on-their-doors, and let them in (and then proceed to NOT obey the verbal commands given to them by their invading banging-on-their-doors, Masters, of the Master Class known as cops and other agents of Government Almighty). Research is needed on this!

  • rajpe||

    Please forgive me for having proposed rational thought & rational discourse.

  • MichaelL||

    Cigarettes produce a chemical that affects the brain. Caffeine affects the brain. The affects that cannabis have are not side effects. Violent behavior is not one of them. (I have never seen it reported) The different effect, on the different races, is not a proven fact, either! It sounds like another instance of someone pulling statistics out of their ass! The suicide rate is, more likely, much higher among the general public, unrelated to cannabis consumption. Your rational thought seems to be littered with irrational reasoning! If cannabis consumption causes suicidal behavior among blacks, why should research be needed? You state it as a fact. It is not! If one wants to observe the affects that cause violent behavior and suicide, one must look no further than alcohol consumption. The situations involving Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin seem to be related to the fact that one thing the black races does is behave violently, more often, than their counterparts in other races. But, I don't know if that can even be proven!

  • Oli||

    You can cherrypick any number of drug / race / age / sex / income / sexuality / whatever / suicide correlation with a sample pool that large.

  • MikeP2||

    Wow...it took a lot of twisting to paint Loesch in a bad light here. Why bother? Is the position of the NRA on pot so important that a babbling article is necessary to try and throw Loesch under the bus of marijuana worship?

  • SQRLSY One||

    There is no marijuana worship here... Only personal, individual freedom worship! And I guess some folks don't like it, even when "personal, individual freedom" is NOT perverted into the freedom to abuse the freedoms of other people!

    Some people think that "personal, individual freedom" includes the freedom to abuse the living snot out of, and even kill, the pot smokers!

  • MichaelL||

    Looks more like someone is trying to point out the hypocrisy associated with the present situation. Both situations should have no bearing on the disposition of those cases! I like her and the NRA. But, I do see the stupidity that seems to be pushed by many ignorant people on the right. This is where the nanny state meets BLM! I did not see any twisting going on. Neither should have been shot. And, neither was more than 0.5% likely going to harm the officers involved. I support most of the police. (I have been bullied by, only, one!) But, I don't forgive them of their trigger happy behavior. So much for protect and serve! Dana does not get a free pass on this.

  • Zeb||

    It's a blog post. Relax.

  • Cthulunotmyfriend||

    The lesson of the story is always keep your front door locked. Never open the door if you can avoid it. I have a locked security screen, so I can talk to people respectfully while keeping the screen closed. A worthwhile investment. If some asshat shot me, I'd be screwed but so would their story. And they wouldn't have the chance to stroll on in and shoot me a few more times, and then makeup some crazy b.s. Witnesses to this event say they heard banging, then the door opening, then shots... Of course the police officer's story is totally different, and the victim can not dispute it since he is dead. I am not a police hater, but humans are humans... Of course now they are trolling the victim for having weed. I want to point out that I was not against the video that was released about Michael Brown prior to his shooting. That was relevant. But searching a man who was murdered in for his own home and framing a narrative that he was a 'criminal' when the most sympathetic explanation for this clusterfuck was that the cop was a trigger happy idiot is beyond the pale.

  • tgrondo||

    Cthulunotmyfriend..

    The lesson of the story is always keep your front door locked

    If you believe the witnesses, having the door locked would not have made any difference...the female cop banged on the door and the guy open it....right?

  • KWlib||

    "the female cop banged on the door and the guy open it....right?"

    I would say 'I'm not opening MY door until you show me a warrant'. At that point maybe she realizes she's at the wrong apartment. If not, you're still in the right and still alive unless she shoots through the door and gets lucky.

  • AlgerHiss||

    The NRA's problem in these cases doesn't have anything to do with freak'n skin color. Not a thing.

    Their real problem is they are the biggest badge lickers in the country. They cuddle up to anyone with a badge and somehow believe that shows real Americanism and love of country,

    It is nauseating, wrong and downright dangerous. But is has nothing to do with skin color.

  • MichaelL||

    Seems that the person that had the problems with shooting was the LE involved in both! Cannabis consumption causes the opposite of violent behavior, as far as experience goes! The people who can carry everywhere are scared to death of us "civilians"!

  • tgrondo||

    I've been following this story and the first time I read anything about what was found in the dead guys apt was on the Dallas NBC affiliate website, NBCDFW Channel 5...but all the outrage seems to be reserved for the Dallas FOX news channel, cause, ya know....everyone likes to go...."Well, what do you expect....FOX NEWS?????"

  • tgrondo||

    Why the freak out about the fact pot was found....and why assume that the release of that fact is an attempt to smear Mr Botham Jean's reputation?

    What....you can't be a good guy...a church goer...a fine upstanding member of the community AND smoke a little weed too ?????(serious question)

    According to Big Smoke, marijuana is a benign product used by....almost everybody. Pot is legal in many states, in Dallas if you're caught with less than 4 oz you get a citation, (ticket) not tossed in jail for 100 yrs...

  • clarkcountycriminalcops||

    "Why assume that the release of that fact is an attempt to smear Mr Botham Jean's reputation?"

    Because that's always what police do when one of their own shoots someone. It has worked in so many other cases. As this very article indicates, marijuana use was used to smear Castile and justify his murder.

    "What....you can't be a good guy...a church goer...a fine upstanding member of the community AND smoke a little weed too ?"

    Since you claim that's a serious question, I'll give you a serious answer.
    Of course you can be both, but it's only been very recently that then public has viewed things that way. The law enforcement community missed this, and tried to use it's old tricks to smear Jean and clear an armed killer who murdered an immigrant during a home invasion.
    The fact that this tactic failed doesn't make the motivations behind it any less real.

  • clarkcountycriminalcops||

    I must admit I was rather shocked when I heard Loesch suggest that immigrants like Botham Jean should have a firearm in their homes just in case they ever need to kill a cop.

  • tgrondo||

    Here's the list of stuff found in Mr Botham Jean's apt:

    2 fired cartridge casings
    1 laptop computer
    1 black backpack with police equipment and paperwork
    1 insulated lunch box
    1 black ballistic vest with "police" markings
    10.4 grams of marijuana in zip-lock bags
    1 metal marijuana grinder
    2 RFID keys
    2 used packages of medical aid

    The cops are doing an investigation and 10.4 grams of weed is on a list of stuff found at the "crime scene"...should they leave that fact off the list ?

    The female cop has already given her phony-baloney excuse of what happen, (she went to the wrong apt, ect) If she was going to use the pot as an excuse, she would have said...."I smelled pot smoke, I busted in...blah, blah".

  • Zeb||

    I doubt that that was a complete list of the contents of his apartment. They left plenty of other things off the list. So why list the pot and not, say, his kitchen knives.

  • clarkcountycriminalcops||

    Here's a list of stuff found in the apartment of Jean's admitted killer:

    Oh wait, they didn't search her apartment. Why not?
    Cops search the homes of the victims of killer cops all the time. even if they were killed elsewhere, but they don't search the home of a killer who lives one floor down from the man she killed?

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