This in the letter section of a Minneapolis Paper. It points our that Officer Yanez could have retreated – and should have, if there was any question in his mind.
There was nothing about the stop that indicated that Castile posed any danger to the public. The “crime” he was stopped for was a basic traffic ticket – and in a lot of jurisdictions, would result in no fine if the driver went and got the issue fixed
I have been a police officer for 19 years. I love my job and serving my community. I have learned over the course of my career to never assume anything. As I watched the events unfold on July 6, 2016, on a Facebook Live feed, I thought that there must be more that happened. There must have been such a threat that wasn’t captured on this video, that forced Officer Yanez to feel his only option was to shoot into a vehicle with a child in the back seat.
Over the past two days, I have listened to the audio interviews. I have read the documents. And then I watched the dash cam video. And it broke me. Officer Yanez was in a position that if he perceived a threat, he could have disengaged. He could have taken other steps to ensure everyone’s safety, and not have forced this outcome.
Shooting a seat-belted man, with a child in the back seat, was not the only option. Until those of us who wear the badge are willing to stand up and speak out when we see things that are wrong, and lead hard conversations, how can we ever expect change? How can we ever expect to rebuild trust within our communities? Barbecues and pick-up basketball games are nice, but that’s not going to do it.
So today, I stand up and speak out, even if it means standing alone. To the family of Philando Castile, to those that loved him, and to everyone who watched that video and felt broken inside, I am sorry. This shouldn’t have happened. His life mattered.
The writer is a detective with the Madison, Wis., Police Department.