Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Officer Target

Minnesota officer reacted to gun, not race, attorney says:
The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a black man in a Minneapolis suburb earlier this week spoke out through his attorney Saturday saying that the shooting had nothing to do with race. The officer, identified as Jeronimo Yanez, shot and killed Philando Castile Wednesday during a routine traffic stop. Castile and his fiance, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, were pulled over for an alleged busted taillight. Authorities told the Associated Press that Yanez approached the vehicle from the driver’s side while his partner, Officer Joseph Kauser, came around the passenger side. Yanez eventually opened fire, striking Castile multiple times.
There are a LOT of things wrong with this story, and I can't believe that either the officer or the driver had so little sense of responsibility that it had to end in the death of the driver.

Ignoring the rumors about the driver, there are ways to handle a normal traffic stop which will help prevent a tragedy.

A lot of people have stories, and questions, about being pulled over during a routine traffic stop when they are armed.  I understand their concerns.   Most people with CHL aren't really conversant with the best way to deal with police; perhaps my own experiences can provide a exemplar.

My Last Experience:
I was pulled over for speeding in my home town a few years ago.  I was armed, had a CHL (Concealed Handgun License) and yes, I was driving over the speed limit.

When the red lights came on, I immediately pulled over.  The police car behind me kept the lights going for two or three minutes.  It was night-time, so I turned on my interior lights   (so he could see what I was doing) and from my wallet I pulled my insurance card, my driver's license and my CHL.

When the officer came up to me I had both hands on the steering wheel.  The three documents were in my hand.  I handed them to the officer, who shined his flashlight on them.

I KNEW that in the two or three minutes between the time he pulled me over and the time he came up to my car, he had called "Central" and he knew that I had a CHL; that's standard procedure ("Wants and Warrants") for most traffic stops.  He also knew that I was the registered owner of the automobile, knewI lived in the near neighborhood, that I had no wants or warrants, and that I had not received a moving-violition citation for the past ten years.

He asked me why I was driving too fast, I told him I was picking up a prescription for my Significant Other .. I was on the street leading to the pharmacy.  She was in pain, I explained, and I was worried about her.

There are three reasons why he let me go with a Verbal Warning:

. I was transparant to him.

. I had a reason for speeding (although not really justifiable, it was legitimate).

. I was prepared to not only identify myself to him, but I let him know that I was armed (at least potentially) ... which he probably already knew.    I didn't have to reach for my gun or my CHL or my license, so he was not presented with any surprises.  Street-wise as he was, he probably gave me time to gather my documentation before he approached me on that dark street.

He warned me to keep the speed down, said he understood my concerns, but warned me that a few minutes would not make any difference to my Significant Other.

Then he told me to stay safe, and let me go.

This is such a dramatic difference from the Philando Castile episode.  When I read the recounting of that confrontation, I could not believe that anyone with a CHL would be so ignorant of the protocol for being pulled over when driving.

My experience was so dramatically different from Castile's, I can't help but wonder what he did that caused his death.

Perhaps the rumors that he (Castile) had some 'history' with the police colored the engagement; I don't know.  But I DO know that any time a police officer confronts you, he is always on 'high-alert' and you (as the person being contronted) should be aware that he is not addressing you as "Officer Friendly".

Today, given the spate of police shootings, he is not addressing you as "Officer Friendly".

He probably considers himself to be "Officer Target".

(I couldn't do that job, especially after the sun goes down.  Confronting an unknown, potentially aggressive person. is the scariest thing I can think of.)

Before you ask; yes, sometimes our local police shoot civilians.  In my neighborhood.

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