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I am very sad to say, sometimes you can do everything right and still end up losing.

On June 16th, the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile was acquitted of all charges. My prior comments on this subject are here and here.

First of all, I am all for holding officers accountable. If they screw up, they should be held to a high standard. Second, "acquitted" does not mean "not guilty." It means the prosecutor did not prove to the jury that the accused was guilty of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murders of two people, however it is pretty clear to anyone with a modicum of common sense that he did it.

Philando Castile did everything he was supposed to. He did everything right as it was taught to him by law enforcement and the NRA. Identify that you are legally armed to a police officer on initial contact. Make no movements without being told. Follow all commands. What makes this a tragedy was a nervous officer feared for his life and shot. That does not make it good, right or justified. It just is. All it does is makes this a tragedy for all people involved and their families.

I have seen a lot of backlash against the NRA because they didn't "immediately respond" about Castile's death, like they did about the killing of five Dallas police officers by a sniper a day or two afterwards. The difference is that in the sniper shooting, there is very little ambiguity about the circumstances, and there was a lot of ambiguity about Castile's death. An investigation needed to be performed in the matter of Castile's death to determine circumstances and context.

Just to show you how quickly things can go south during a traffic stop, This video was an officer from the Opelika, AL police department shooting an airman involved in a minor traffic incident.

At 32 seconds, the airman opens the door to his vehicle. At 35 seconds, the officer sees something in the airman's hands and commands, "Lemme see your hands!" At 37 seconds, the officer commands "Lemme see your hands!" a second time and two shots are fired. At this point the airman goes down. Think about this, two seconds between the first command and shots fired. It is obvious that the airman has something in his hands. A later, second and third look shows it to obviously be a wallet. At first look though, you can't be 100% sure and that kind of "not sure" can easily mean "dead officer."

Here is a second video to prove how deadly two seconds can be to a police officer:

This was a shooting in West Memphis, AR by a "sovereign citizen" and his son. At the 5:58 mark, the son slightly opens his car door. At 6:00 the man starts resisting and the son comes out of the vehicle with a rifle, shooting both officers. Over the next minute before they drive off, they execute both officers, and the son fires a couple of "goodbye" shots into them as they leave. The officers were probably fatally wounded in the 2-5 seconds or so after the boy exits the vehicle. The rest of the time is probably "making sure" the officers were dead.

I bring this particular shooting up for two reasons. First, this happened "just over the bridge" from where I live in Memphis. Second, I lived for several years in Bartlett, TN, a suburb of Memphis, where Robert Paudert was the Chief of Police. I interacted with him a couple of times on some community projects. He appeared to me as a likeable, no-nonsense person. Robert became the Chief of Police for West Memphis, AR a couple of years later. His son, Brandon Paudert was one of those officers killed.

Armchair quarterbacking rarely does any good for incidents like this. Sure, you can pause and rewind the video and view it from 3 different angles to get all the nuances and things that were missed during the live action. We should study this kind of video to improve training to make sure it does not happen again unnecessarily (because despite our best efforts as flawed beings, it will happen again), not to microstudy, then parse millisecond-by-millisecond in order to assign blame.