Saturday, June 10, 2017

74 Seconds: Jeronimo Yanez & The Philando Castile Trial

School cafeteria supervisor Philando Castile was
shot and killed by officer Jeronimo Yanez in 2016
74 Seconds.

If you've kept up with the current trial of  St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez for the unprovoked shooting death of motorist Philando Castile back on July 6, 2016, you may know that 74 seconds is the amount of time that transpired from the time that Yanez pulled Castile over for a broken taillight, until the time that he fired seven shots at point blank range into the car.

According to an article by Chao Xiong in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Thursday, a defense expert testified that Yanez's decision to fire his weapon was "objectively unreasonable".

'Objectively unreasonable' is probably putting it lightly.

It took the-then 28-year-old Yanez, an officer of Mexican descent with 4 years experience, all of 74 seconds to pull out his handgun and fire seven shots into a car with a woman (his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds) in the passenger seat and her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat.

As Xiong's article reports, Yanez's defense team is pursuing a strategy that has become typical of many unjustified police shootings involving men of color who weren't actually doing anything illegal.

They are trying to portray Castile, a cafeteria supervisor at a local school who was well-liked by students, parents and co-workers alike, as somehow being negligent and responsible for his own death because he used marijuana recreationally and allegedly failed to comply with Yanez's orders.

But as you most of you reading this likely recall, Diamond Reynolds, the passenger sitting in the car who witnessed the shooting, began live-streaming the incident over Facebook 103 seconds after the car was stopped just after Castile was shot - a ten-minute video that was viewed millions of times by people around the world.

Officer Jeronimo Yanez
In the video, a visibly-unhinged Yanez can be seen standing next to the driver's side window with his handgun pointed at Castile's motionless bloodied body yelling "Fuck!" repeatedly.

He can clearly be heard complaining that he told Castile not to move, but Reynolds calmly explains that he'd ordered Castile to show his identification - and that he only reached into his pocket to get his wallet.

As has been widely reported, Castile was stopped in the St. Paul, Minnesota suburb of Falcon Heights.

Where remarkably, he'd previously been stopped by police at least 52 times for various minor traffic violations; which tells that you that either a) there's a high concentration of black people in Minnesota who are incredibly bad drivers, or b) there is some seriously off-the-chart racial bias in terms of police traffic stops in Falcon Heights.

But it was a mere 74 seconds after the 53rd stop that he was shot and killed for having a broken tail light and complying with Officer Yanez's order to show his identification.

74 Seconds is also the name of an ongoing NPR podcast produced by Minnesota Public Radio that has tracked the Castile shooting and the subsequent trial - check it out if you haven't heard it before.

Taking the stand in his own defense yesterday, a tearful Yanex told the packed courtroom that he thought "he was going to die" when Castile reached into the pocket of his shorts to get his ID.

To be clear, Yanez is claiming that a respected cafeteria supervisor with his girlfriend and a 4-year old child in the car was about to reach into his pocket and pull out a handgun which he was licensed to own and carry and shoot a police officer after being stopped for a broken tail light.

Is a jury going to buy that?

The defense has rested it's case in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez, I know I'm not the only one waiting to see if the justice system is going to hold him accountable for the decision to take Philando Castile's life just 74 seconds after stopping him because his Oldsmobile had a broken tail light.

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