Police shooting acquittal worries black gun owners

Kent’s Note: This story comes from the Associated Press

Gerry Martin isn’t sure he will ever tell a police officer during a traffic stop that he has a concealed-weapon permit — and possibly a weapon — on him.

The acquittal of a Minnesota officer in the death of a licensed gun owner who volunteered that he had a gun seconds before being fatally shot during a traffic stop adds to the worries of African-American gun owners about how they are treated by police and society.

Acknowledging that they have a weapon, they said, can open them up to violence from police, who can then claim they feared for their lives simply because of the presence of a gun, even a legal one.

“As soon as you say, ‘I’m a concealed carry holder. This is my license,’ they automatically are reaching for their gun thinking you’re going to draw your gun on them, once again not realizing you’re a good guy,” said Martin, who lives in Glenside, Pennsylvania.

Philando Castile was fatally shot by the officer July 6 in a St. Paul suburb seconds after he told the officer he was armed. Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is Latino, was acquitted Friday of manslaughter and two lesser charges.

During the stop, Castile volunteered, “Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me.”

Yanez told Castile, “OK, don’t reach for it then” and “Don’t pull it out.”

On the squad-car video, Castile can be heard saying, “I’m not pulling it out,” as Yanez opened fire. Prosecutors said Castile’s last words were, “I wasn’t reaching for it.”

The verdict “tells African-Americans across the country that they can be killed by police officers with impunity, even when they are following the law,” said Cederic Richmond, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The verdict also tells blacks that “the Second Amendment does not apply to them” because Castile “was honest with the officer about having a weapon in the car, and there is no evidence that he attempted to or intended to use the weapon against the officer,” the Louisiana Democrat said.

Outside the courthouse, Castile’s mother said Yanez got away with murder. Her son was wearing a seatbelt and in a car with his girlfriend and her then-4-year-old daughter when he was shot.

“I am so very, very, very … disappointed in the system here in the state of Minnesota,” Valerie Castile said.

Licensed gun owner and open-carry advocate Rick Ector of Detroit said stereotypes can cloud the minds of some officers when dealing with black gun owners. Officers may have had previous encounters with people carrying guns illegally — especially young black men. And that experience can carry over, Ector said.

Once they find out that a black American has a gun permit, “they are not necessarily going to relax, but they now have an idea about your character,” Ector said.

Phillip Smith, head of the National African American Gun Association, said police need additional training to remind them that Second Amendment rights apply to black gun owners as much as anyone else.

Like several similar cases, Castile’s death was shared worldwide on social media. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook because, she said, she wanted to make sure the truth was known.

But videos of black people dying at the hands of police have led to few convictions.

“I’m sure people of color are going to say, and rightfully so, what is the burden of proof for an officer to be” convicted? asked Dwayne Crawford, the executive director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy with a pellet gun tucked into his waistband, was fatally shot by a white Cleveland police officer in November 2014. But a grand jury declined to indict patrolman Timothy Loehmann, who fired the fatal shot, or training officer Frank Garmback. The city settled Rice’s family’s lawsuit for $6 million.

Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old boy, was fatally shot by a white officer, Darren Wilson, in August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Their confrontation was not captured on video. A grand jury declined to indict Wilson, and the Justice Department opted against civil rights charges. Wilson later resigned.

Only one police officer in recent publicized cases is facing jail time.


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  1. Dave Skofstad on

    The article fails to discuss what the deceased WAS doing when the officer fired his weapon. Just as it fails to mention what the other two young black men were doing when shot. We know Michael Brown was trying to overpower Officer Wilson and take his firearm. That why not even Barack Obama’s AG Eric Holder (a black man) could fathom charging Wilson.
    Your slant is showing.

    • I strongly suggest that you actually watch the video that shows what happened before and after this man was shot. Every case is different, but this one seems to be a case where the cop just lost it and fired without provocation. At a time when the gun rights movement is reaching out to the black community, we need to be ready to defend the rights of black gun owners.

  2. Only an idiot would tell a cop that he has a gun … law to do so or not. Such laws violate your RKBA and are void.

    Ask police for invoices for all their guns .. they’ll deny it claiming that if the tell the public what guns that they have creates a safety risk.

    The same goes for you. All laws of background checks, registration, and permitting all violate you rights just due to this one point…it creates a safety risk for the person disclosing.

  3. The Castilo case really bothers me, he told the officer he had a firearm and a permit and was shot after the officer told him to get his ID. That cop should be out of a job at bare minimum, I would prefer to have seen him go to prison he certainly deserved it.

    How can we keep reaching the black community if law abiding permit carrying citizens still get shot, the police report shows that the gun was still in his pocket and he had NOT tried to draw it.

    BTW you left out the case of John Crawford who was shot for having a BB gun, he never pointed it at anyone, it was something he was buying from the freaking store and the police shot him, they gave him no chance to put the “gun” down they simply shot him. Now part of the issue is whoever called it in to the police and claimed that he was harassing people and aiming it at people. I sure would like to know who made that call, were they a swatting leftist? That person in my opinion should also be in prison for making the false statements to the police.

    Samaine Gayle what does that have to do with ANYTHING in the article?

    Phil: I used to live in a small town the kind of town where they really like ticket revenue, I have always notified the officer that I have a gun in the car and NOT ONCE have they even sub consciously put their hand on their gun. I now live in a larger town and they never bat an eye, I am also pasty white. This issue of law abiding African Americans who are simply exercising their 2a rights being shot is terrifying to me, this has to be dealt with it has to stop.

  4. Two things that seem to stick out about this story. One is that “skin color” of the person killed had some impact on the outcome, not shown by the facts. The idea that “race” is a factor in everything that happens is just wrong and will lead to continued problems.
    Second, this “video” very well is part of what caused the problem Both the people in the vehicle did not act in a way that a law enforcement officer would think as appropriate for innocent people. Without total disclosure of all of the evidence, it is harmful to write opinion articles expressing the idea that justice was not done.

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