Friday, June 23, 2017

How Not To Get Shot By The Police

     I can't promise you any sure answers on that.  The legal aftermath of the Philando Castile shooting -- police officer acquitted -- is all over the blogosphere and social media, and everyone is looking at it in the tinted mirror of their own politics and holding forth.

     I'm not going to hold forth about the situation.  I wasn't there.  "Things went terribly wrong," is about the best I have.  That's no comfort at all for the man's survivors and does nothing to fix matters for them.  Nor does it provide a guideline for police retraining.  Two nervous people interacted and one of them was killed as a result.  It wasn't the policeman.

     Do what you can to manage your encounters with the police.  The officer is well-armed, has backup and works under qualified immunity; courts will tend to defer to his or her opinion.  You?  You're just some gal or some guy.  Oh, probably a citizen, and you like to think of yourself as a good citizen.  When Officer Friendly stopped you, awarding a Good Citizenship medal was probably not the reason.  So you're already behind the eight-ball, more so if you're visibly off the average, and who isn't? Play it cool.
  •      Minimize the reasons you might be stopped.  All vehicle lights working, no big obvious cracks in the windshield, obey speed limits, etc.  (I do badly at this -- I have a sidelight that needs fixed and, typical city-dweller, I'm an habitual flow-of-traffic speeder.)
  •      A police stop is probably not the time to engage in political protest.  Unless you were setting out to make a point, maybe get some bad policy or law challenged in court, concentrate on what you need to do to get through the experience unscathed.  Is this humiliating?  Is it something no decent citizen of a democracy ought to have to endure?  Probably -- but there you are.  Do you want to sleep in your own bed that night?  The alternatives are a thin mattress at the jail or a cold slab at the morgue.  They suck.
  •      If you are stopped, engine off (if driving) and no sudden moves.  Do only what the officer tells you, offer only the information requested and remember the stakes: your life and freedom.
     Greg Ellifritz offers advice for law enforcement officers.  Read it, and consider the implications for you.

     Stay alive, stay out of jail, and write your Congressthing.  Write your state-level representatives.  Call 'em up.  Let your local government know when they or theirs are getting over the line.  And help prevent the next police encounter gone wrong.


Anonymous said...

Quote from someone who was there:

Former Officer Jeronimo Yanez told investigators a day after the fatal July 6 shooting that he was “hit with a odor of burning marijuana” after he pulled over Castile, his girlfriend and her then-four-year-old daughter — an alleged smell he used in justifying why he’d put seven bullets in the St. Paul man.

“I thought, I was gonna die and I thought if he’s, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five-year-old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing then what, what care does he give about me,” Yanez told the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension."

Found Here

Haven't been able to find out if a post-mortem showed any THC in his system, but yeesh.

Also from the article, girlfriend decides to help:

“Don’t pull it out,” Yanez warns on video.

“I’m not pulling it out,” Castile replies.

“He’s not,” echoes Reynolds."

If you're a passenger, shut up and don't raise the stress level of the officer by reminding him he has two possible threats to deal with when he's already got adrenaline dumping into his system. Don't try to help.

Monty James

Jay Eimer said...

Dave Kopel has an interesting write up that boils it down to two things.

1. Because the stop started with a BOLO for a similar car in a robbery, the cops stress level was very high. But because of poor training, he didn't handle that well.

2. Because there were really only 3 people there (one deceased), in court it's a "he said/she said" and one of the two is a LEO while the other is much less credible (see comments regarding drug use....)

Civil liability of the officer is likely. Civil liability of the department (for insufficient training) is possible, but less likely. But criminal charges, while warranted, failed to obtain a conviction, mostly because of #2 above, enhanced somewhat by #1.

OTOH, if Castile had kept both hands on the wheel, with his license and permit already in hand, and made no sudden moves, things might have gone a lot better. (That's the way I was taught to handle a police stop in my CC class - in a duty to inform state, btw).