It’s imperative that juries understand that not all fear is reasonable, and some officers simply and wrongly panic.
Yesterday afternoon, Minnesota officials finally released the full video of the traffic stop that cost Philando Castile his life. It’s a tough video to watch. I’m embedding it below, but beware, it is very raw:
If you watch carefully, two salient facts should emerge. First, Philando Castile was quite literally following the police officer’s instructions when he was shot. The officer asked for his license and told him not to reach for his gun. Castile reached for his license while verbally assuring the officer that he was not reaching for his gun. The officer shot him anyway.
The second fact overwhelmed the first. The officer panicked. His terror is palpable. The man went from conducting a relatively routine traffic stop to shrieking and firing in a matter of seconds. Part of this is understandable. Life can change in a flash, and when we’re in a state of ultimate distress, few of us can be as composed as SEAL Team Six.
When I saw that palpable panic, I immediately knew why he was acquitted.