A few weeks ago I wrote about my thoughts on the final episode of the series “Shots Fired.” The series focused on the murder investigations of a black and white teen that were killed by police officers in two separate incidents. The show concluded with Deputy Beck being indicted for the murder of white teen Jesse Carr. In the case of Joey Campbell (the black teen), his killer was acquitted. It was yet another situation where an officer was not convicted because he or she claimed their life was being threatened.
I wondered why in the conclusion there was no justice for Joey, but I assumed it was because his case is a reflection of our current criminal justice system towards black men. Ironically just a few days ago it was announced that Jeronimo Yanez,( the officer that killed Philando Castile) was acquitted.
Philando was killed on July 6, 2016 in Minnesota when Yanez pulled him over for a broken brake light. The exchange between Castile and Yanez started off calm but ended with Yanez firing 7 shots into Castile’s car with his girlfriend and 4 year old daughter inside. Philando Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds streamed a live video of the incident that went viral and caught nationwide attention. In newly released dashboard camera footage, you can hear Yanez asking Castile for his license and insurance. Castile politely informs the officer that he has a firearm on him in which the officer responds by telling him not to reach for it. In just a matter of seconds Yanez fires into the car. You can hear his girlfriend state hysterically that he wasn’t reaching for the gun.
I do realize that officers have a difficult job but I’m baffled as to how this officer felt his life was being threatened by a man who was honest enough to tell him that he was carrying a weapon. How can shooting into a man’s car 7 times while a child was inside be justified? How do you appear not to be a threat to someone who subconsciously perceives you as threatening? What about that person made them a threat and if a person’s differences make he or she threatening than some officers are in the wrong profession.
It’s so disheartening and frustrating that these occurrences keep taking place but the outcome continues to be the same. I’m so tired of reading headlines, watching videos, adding names to the list of unjust murders, and posting hashtags. I want to help produce change but sometimes I feel hopeless and question what exactly can I do.
RIP Philando Castile