Philando Castile homicide has wrecked me

‘Are we all watching the same video? The video where a law-abiding man followed an officer’s instructions to the letter of the law and was killed regardless?’

In the roster of black men killed by police and available on video, the brutal, and totally unnecessary death of Philando Castile, and the acquital of the police officer who shot him, has hit me the hardest. As Trevor Noah said on the Daily Show, “I won’t lie to you, when I watched this video, it broke me.”

In case you can’t keep up with WHICH miscarriage of American justice this was:

“After Officer [Jeronimo] Yanez politely informs Castile that he’s been pulled over for a broken taillight and asks for Castile’s license and insurance, Castile calmly discloses that he has a firearm (Castile had a permit to carry the gun). Then the situation rapidly devolves. Yanez places his hand on his holster and tells Castile not to reach for the gun; within a few seconds, Yanez is yelling ‘Don’t pull it out!’ as Castile and his girlfriend try to assure Yanez that no one is grabbing for it. Then Yanez fires seven times into the car.”

Yes, watching videos of police brutality can traumatize you, especially if you’re black. “Research suggests that repeated viewing of terrorism news coverage can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

“Though Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, had previously streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook live, the moment of the shooting itself was not made available to the public until this week.”

And then it gets surreal.

Moments after Yanez shot Castile, [Diamond Reynold’s] 4-year-old [daughter] climbed out of the back seat of the car in which Castile was shot…

Diamond Reynolds and her daughter were in the back of a squad car for “45 minutes until an officer drove them to a nearby police station for questioning…” While handcuffed there, “Reynolds shouted an expletive, and the girl said, ‘Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted.'” The girl also wished they lived in a safer place.

I’m watching this with my teenaged daughter, and she’s crying, and I’m crying. We show it to my wife and watch it yet again, and she’s crying too.

And where’s the National Rifle Association in this? The NRA has shunned a Second Amendment martyr. “Philando Castile died because he exercised his right to bear arms.” Even the very conservative Hot Air thinks so.

“Part of the irony of this verdict, Noah explained, is that it comes after years of people saying that the solution to unwarranted police shootings is to require police to wear body cameras, to eliminate any doubt about what had happened. ‘Black people have already taken that initiative, all right?’ Thanks to cellphones, every black person has a body cam now’ — and for Castile, neither a dashcam nor a cellphone mattered.

“Even worse, Noah went on with palpable horror, is that the jury of Castile’s fellow citizens did see this footage, and concluded that Officer Yanez had reason to claim self-defense. ‘Forget race,’ Noah said. ‘Are we all watching the same video? The video where a law-abiding man followed an officer’s instructions to the letter of the law and was killed regardless? People watched that video, and then voted to acquit?'”

The Philando Castile story hasn’t made me mad as hell. It has brought out a level of despair that even I, as melancholy as I can be, have not felt in a very long time.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

15 thoughts on “Philando Castile homicide has wrecked me”

  1. I’m completely beyond understanding these killings anymore, nor how anyone—well, white people, mostly—can be so cavalier about all this, and so proudly, arrogantly, and condescendingly dismissive with their “all lives matter” bullshit. When people ask me if I’d ever return to the USA, this is one of two things that make me WANT to say, though I never do, “no way, no how, not ever”. The truth is, I don’t know what that country is nowadays, but it’s not anything even remotely close to being the United States I was born in and loved. I left that country 20 years ago, but since then the country has left everyone.

  2. Thank you for this, Roger. I’ve been trying to write about it, but just wind up staring at a black computer screen. You’ve motivated me to either push through, or back away knowing you’re already done it. I remain paralyzed. Lurking behind the shock of the video is the knowledge that these things have always happened. It’s just the now we know about them. How many Castiles are there?

  3. The whole thing was horrifying, but the part that was beyond imagination to me was the video where Diamond, Castile’s girlfriend, is with her daughter in the back of a police car in handcuffs on the edge of panic next to her daughter who just watched her father murdered.

    Why is Diamond in handcuffs? Why can’t she hold and comfort her daughter? Castile didn’t do anything wrong, but neither did she and she just watched her lover and the father of her child get murdered. Why is she chained like an animal?

    There’s only one logical, rational answer, an answer that we keep backing away from but it’s the only one that explains the verdict, the election, chaining a grieving mother in the back of a police car: most white people, particularly in areas that are mostly white, are racist. Not just simple implicit bias racist, that split second, accidental bigotry we all have, but full fledged racist.

  4. I am horrified too, Roger. Every time another of these improbable verdicts comes in I fear for my friends, my neighbors, myself and my country. It isn’t even about justice any longer, it’s the madness consuming everybody.

  5. Horrible, horrible. Coming from a Southern family, I have heard old stories of which this is a reminder. Do everything right and still the hammer comes down. Horrible, horrible.

  6. I spent a chunk of time crying over this today, especially after seeing that Trevor Noah segment. I have no words, but lots of dread and despair.

  7. That was the question in my usual social circles: “How could someone see that and vote to acquit?”

    No matter what some people say, Driving While Black is not a crime, and it’s not an excuse to detain someone.

  8. I don’t know what to think of this country anymore. Between this and the health care bill that’s almost certain to pass, I’m this close to just giving up and accepting that whatever progress humanity makes–and it will–America won’t be a part of it.

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