Julia Dahl with CBS News:
On Wednesday evening, police in Falcon Heights, Minn., fatally shot Philando Castile in his car. According to a video filmed by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was sitting beside him when he was shot, Castile informed the officer that he had a firearm.
“He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him,” Reynolds tells the camera.
“I told him not to reach for it,” says the officer, whose face is unseen but whose gun is still pointed at the bleeding Castile in the driver’s seat.
“You told him to get his ID, sir,” responds Reynolds.
Minnesota law enforcement have yet to confirm whether Castile did indeed have a permit to carry a firearm, but if he did, he is one of more than 230,000 such licensed gun owners in Minnesota, according to Andrew Rothman of the Minnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance.
Since 2003, Minnesota has been what is called a “shall issue,” state, which means that county law enforcement must issue a permit to carry a concealed weapon if the applicant meets certain standards. And, Rothman says, 13 years after this expansion of the right to carry, Minnesota police should know how to interact with legally armed citizens.
[ … ]
Bill Johnson, the Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations, an advocacy and education organization focused on advancing the interests of law enforcement officers, says that the presence of a gun other than the officer’s in a police-civilian interaction “does ratchet up the stress of the situation.”
Reynolds, who gave an emotional statement outside the Minnesota governor’s mansion Thursday on Facebook Live, says that they were pulled over because of a broken taillight, which she says wasn’t broken.
Reynolds said the officer asked to see Castile’s license, and Castile reached into his back right pocket where he keeps his identification. She said Castile told the officer he was carrying a firearm, and Reynolds said she told the officer he was legally licensed to carry.
That’s when, she said, the officer fired five shots into Castile’s chest. She said the officer told them not to move: “How can you not move when they ask you for your license and registration?”
In a situation like what Reynolds describes, Johnson says that there are multiple ways for an officer to make sure he and the citizen he pulls over are safe once that person has disclosed that he has a firearm.
“Most officers will say, I appreciate you letting me know: here’s what we’ll do,” Johnson said. The officer can then, for example, ask the subject to step out of the car while he secures the firearm until the encounter is finished. He can also ask his partner to secure the firearm while the civilian keeps his or her hands in plain sight.
Oh dear. It’s going to take some unpacking for this one. First of all, I sure am glad that with ISIS in the twin cities, we have cops focusing on the right things such as broken tail lights. We wouldn’t want the inspection process to handle it or anything. We need to pay cops good money to conduct stops to tell drivers about their tail lights.
Next, there’s just nothing more a peaceable, law abiding citizen can do. He pulled over, came to a complete stop, rolled the window down, and announced that he had a gun. He did everything he is expected to do. And no, silly counsel to call what you have a “firearm” rather than gun or weapon has no bearing on anything at all.
Whether he is black, white or some other race is irrelevant to the issue. He was exercising his rights, not just rights under the law (which is a covenant for living together), but incorrigible rights granted by God. In addition to other things like departments possibly hiring the wrong kind of people, police officers are simply being taught the wrong things in the academy and by the example of their superiors.
According to the Supreme Court in Tennesse versus Garner, police can use their weapons only in the same instances I can, i.e., when their lives are in danger. If I cannot legally do it, then police officers cannot legally do it either. The fact that they get away with it because prosecutors won’t bring charges doesn’t make it okay.
Continuing, it isn’t okay for an officer to unholster his weapon and point it, showing no muzzle discipline, in the direction of someone who isn’t an immediate and clearly discernible threat. I cannot legally do that, and it’s called assault with a deadly weapon. It isn’t okay to assume that when someone is doing what you tell him to, he is really intent on doing you harm. People cannot read minds, and Mr. Castile had no way of knowing that you thought he was reaching for his weapon. If you cannot do any better than that as a LEO, then quit your job and go find one you can handle.
It isn’t okay to discharge your weapon in the direction of someone just because you surmise he might be doing something you don’t understand. And finally, it isn’t okay to take another man’s life for obeying the law. The notion that the mere presence of a weapon “ratchets up the stress” is ridiculous. I’m around people with guns all the time. I’m not stressed out. I’m careful, but I don’t swing my weapons around and threaten people because that’s unwise, immoral and illegal. What the cop did was unwise, immoral and illegal. I don’t care if a jury exonerates him – he is guilty of at least second degree murder in my book, or perhaps manslaughter.
Here’s a note to cops everywhere. Assume everybody is carrying a firearm. Take a deep breath. Be a friend to the person you have stopped. Stay calm. If a man pulls his car over, rolls his window down and announces pursuant to the law that he is carrying and agrees to produce his permit, don’t unholster your weapon and kill him. He hasn’t done anything illegal. These are basic childlike things that any fifth grader should know. And don’t tell him to put his hands up. That’s stupid. Grow up. Ask him to put his hands on the steering wheel if you can’t take the stress. But don’t tell him to produce his license and then shoot him for moving his hands. That makes you out to be the moron, not him.
The problem, notwithstanding Julia’s lede, isn’t that both cops and civilians have guns. LEOs and civilians have always had guns, and they always will. This is nothing new, but what is new is the reaction we see with LEOs. And this reaction is itself causing problems. Witness dead LEOs in Dallas from the Black Lives Matter protest. BLM is quickly becoming a terrorist organization, and just to remind you, none of this has in my mind to do with Michael Brown, a criminal who stole, trespassed, and beat a cop nearly senseless. Don’t mix these two things if you want to think clearly about the issue.
Our friend Amanda Marcotte at Salon reacted with disdain not at the police, but the NRA.
Right in the midst of a national outrage over a video of police in Louisiana shooting Alton Sterling while holding him on the ground, yet another video of a police shooting of a black man has come out.
This video, filmed in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, shows a man named Philando Castile writhing in pain with blood splattered all over his car while his girlfriend says that a police officer shot Castile after asking Castile, responding to requests for his license, reached for his wallet. Castile later died of his wounds.
Beyond being yet more videos of senseless violence by police against African-Americans, what these two videos have in common is the police in question excuse their actions by citing the presence of a gun.
In the Minnesota video, the woman tells the camera that Castile informed the office that he had a licensed gun on him before he reached for his wallet. The officer then returns, arguing, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”
In the Louisiana video, officers can be heard yelling, “He’s got a gun!”
In both cases, there seems to be no question that the shooting victims were armed. It’s a point that’s already being flogged by conservatives in an effort to excuse these officers.
However, and conservatives should be the first to remember this, guns are legal in this country.
Guns are legal in this country. Louisiana is an open carry state. Minnesota allows concealed carry. Police officers in these states know full well that people have a legal right to carry. They have, according to conservatives themselves, no reason to believe that a man with a gun is a bad guy. Why, he could very well be one of those good guys with a gun, at the ready to stop crime, that we keep hearing about from conservatives
Which brings up a critical question: Where is the gun rights lobby?
Here are two American citizens that were killed while doing what the NRA claims is a constitutional right. Surely this must be a gross injustice in the eyes of the NRA! Surely they will be demanding action, petitioning congressmen, demanding the Department of Justice to step forward and make sure that every American has a right to arm themselves without fear of being gunned down by the police! Right?
Oh Amanda, there’s no reason to be bitchy about this. The NRA doesn’t usually get involved in individual cases, but they usually do stay more on track for larger legislative actions they can effect (some to my liking, but if it ends in yet another gun control law, I’m always opposed to it). But if you want conservatives to come to the defense of the man shot in Minnesota, why not use my example? I am the NRA. I say the cop did something that was evil, but I don’t think that’s the real issue with your commentary. I think you’re being disingenuous. See, you no more believe in Mr. Castile’s rights than you believe in mine. You’re just using this event as an opportunity to be a SJW, aren’t you?
One final point as I close out and give readers free reign to analyze as appropriate. If you’re a LEO and you actually touch another man’s gun in the process of a stop, or you have a partner touch his gun, much less unholster it, “secure” it or anything else you think you are doing to it, let me be as clear as I can be. You … are … an … idiot. If your procedures have you doing this, then your procedures were written by idiots. You can tell them I said so and send them this article.
You have no business risking NDs or taking possession of property that isn’t yours, even temporarily, and especially since you don’t know of modifications that may have been made to the firearm that would make it unfamiliar to you.
Don’t do it. Just say no. I wouldn’t walk up and presume to take possession of another man’s gun at a range or while in his home. You have no business doing that either. It’s weird, creepy, and unsafe.