The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences

Dashcam video of police officer Jeronimo Yanez shooting Philando Castile
Dashcam video of police officer Jeronimo Yanez shooting Philando Castile

 

On June 16, a jury acquitted St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez of all charges in the 2016 killing of motorist Philando Castile. That acquittal was, in a sense, also a death sentence — not for Yanez, but for future motorists unfortunate enough to encounter cops like him.

No, this is not a “bad cop” story. It’s a sad tale and I actually feel sorry for Yanez. But the facts are what they are.

Yanez killed Castile. The killing was caught on video and neither Yanez nor his attorneys denied it.

His defense (that he feared for his life) was based on ridiculous grounds relating to the smell of cannabis and the presence of a child  (“I thought, I was gonna die, and I thought if he’s, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five year old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing, then what, what care does he give about me?”).

Reasonable fear of death or grievous bodily harm justifies a self-defense claim. Yanez’s fears were far from reasonable, especially in a trained law enforcement officer whose partner was mere feet away and whose subject of interrogation was peaceful and compliant right up to the moment Yanez shot him.

Castile had informed Yanez that he possessed a concealed weapon and a permit for it, and was following Yanez’s orders to produce the permit when Yanez panicked and fired.

Key word: Panicked. His fear wasn’t justified. It wasn’t reasonable. It was unthinking and irrational. That made him culpably negligent in the killing.

Jeronimo Yanez should have never been issued a badge, a gun, a patrol car, and authority to pull over and interrogate motorists. But he was. That’s a failure of pre-employment psychological screening.

Once Yanez DID receive those items and that authority, the responsibility for what he did with them became his as well. Yes, it was a heavy responsibility, but one he voluntarily assumed and failed to fulfill.

The jury, in relieving him of the consequences of that failure, continued a sad tradition of holding law enforcement officers to a lesser standard of conduct than ordinary Americans. In doing so, they made the world a safer place for cops who shouldn’t be cops — and a more dangerous place for the rest of us.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:[email protected]) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION  HISTORY

Mere Anarchy: The Center Cannot Hold

RGBStock.com WWW

A spectre is haunting Earth — the spectre of freedom. All the powers of the existing order have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Drug Czar, Tillerson and May, European progressives and Chinese financial police.

Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as anarchistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of anarchism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

Yes, I’ve swiped those first two paragraphs from Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and reformulated them for our day. Whatever Marx’s faults as an economic, social and political theorist (and they were many), he was on to something when he took notice of the convulsions wrought by the Industrial Revolution.

One side effect of that revolution — which raised the standard of living in what we now call the “developed” nations so much that the monarchs of the 19th century look like paupers compared to the average middle class American of today — was centralization. Production moved from home workshops into factories. The fragmented political and economic power of small feudal fiefdoms was consolidated into the hands of national political classes and central planners.

Three quarters of a century into the Information Revolution, its ramifications are finally becoming clear. We’re decentralizing.

With the press of a button, a writer can make her work available to a global audience without the large centralized publishing company she’d have had to beg for help  even 25 years ago.

Taxi monopolies find themselves in mortal combat with apps which connect individual riders to individual drivers; hotel monopolies with apps which connect lodgers to spare rooms in homes.

The political class and its cronies have effectively lost the war to save the centralized “intellectual property” monopolies, and are now losing their grip on money as cryptocurrencies begin to limit their ability to regulate and tax commerce.

This revolution is far from finished, but it is in principle already possible for a retail clerk in Wichita to talk, share, and trade with a chef in Smolensk or a mechanic in Singapore — without the permission of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, or Lee Hsien Loong.

When Theresa May calls for Internet censorship to “stop terrorism” or Charles Schumer tries to suppress Bitcoin “to protect the consumer,” the above is what they are actually fighting desperately to reverse.

They know they’re losing their power over you. They want it back. But their only weapon is their ability to convince you that you need them. You don’t.

Government as we know it is disappearing, and that’s a good thing. What’s next? Who knows? I look forward to finding out.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter:[email protected]) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION  HISTORY

Contemplating a Jobless Future: I For One Welcome Our New Robot Overlords

RGBStock Earth

Writing in Reason magazine, Ronald Bailey asks (and tries to answer) a question you’ve probably been hearing a lot lately and may have silently asked yourself:  “Are Robots Going to Steal Our Jobs?” Bailey takes an optimistic view. “[A]s we look ahead now to the end of the 21st century, we can’t predict what jobs workers will be doing, he writes. “But that’s no reason to assume those jobs won’t exist.”

Bailey has history on his side. On the other hand, the question is certainly worth taking seriously.

Technological advances have historically ended up creating more jobs than they eliminate and increasing the aggregate wealth and power of the societies which adopt them. Oral Messengers and Backpack Wheat Carriers Union, Sumer Local #1, probably lobbied against the adoption of writing and the wheel, but it’s hard to envision a path from Sumer to modern civilization that doesn’t include them. And by comparison to the kings of Sumer, the lowest quintile of any developed society today live like, well, kings. Technological advancement makes more things available to more people more cheaply.  Technological stagnation produces social stagnation a la the Dark Ages.

Will the current era of automation culminate in the opposite of historical results — mass unemployment, a dramatic increase in the wealth and power gap separating rich and poor?

Or are we at the doorway to a “post-scarcity” era, a product of what Ray Kurzweil calls the Law of Accelerating Returns,  in which work as we know it becomes highly optional because the necessities and minor luxuries of life get so cheap that we’re free spend the bulk of our time doing whatever we please instead of scrabbling for food, shelter, clothing, and cable television?

The answer may not be quite so binary. Maybe things will just keep slowly getting better, or maybe they’ll start slowly getting worse.

But my guess is that if we can successfully shed the burden of our most regressive and wealth-draining social institution — political government, aka the state — before it drags us down into global totalitarian slavery or  nuclear suicide, the future will look a lot more like the latter than like the former.

In the US, government leeches more than third of GDP directly out of the productive sector and into its political schemes, and kills still more of the productive sector’s potential with regulation.

The democratization of technology (these days you can make things in your garage or on your desktop that could only be made in a large factory 50 years ago) and the rise of economic networks that can at least potentially function beyond the reach of state taxation and regulation represent an opportunity to take back the future. Let’s seize that opportunity.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

PUBLICATION  HISTORY