By Keith Mansur
Oregon Cannabis Connection
In the murder case of Philando Castille, St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty. The shooting of the innocent motorist happened in front of his girlfriend and her four year old daughter who were occupants of the car. The case received national attention after Castille’s girlfriend calmly shared the aftermath of the shooting live on social media. Marijuana became a central issue in the case due to the ineptitude and ignorance of the young officer.
With the release of the police reports and investigations of the case, comments to investigators following the murder by officer Yanez show just how ridiculous his claims were, and exemplify just how ignorant and untrained many law enforcement personnel are in this nation. Unfortunately, this inept police officer’s completely unfounded fear for his life was considered enough of a reason to acquit him of any wrongdoing and that fear stemmed partly from the smell of “burnt” marijuana.
The presence of marijuana in the car was casually mentioned in reports leading up to the case, but no serious information relating to the cannabis was made until the case was presented in court. What officer Yanez told police officers investigating the shooting shows just how poor the judgment, and the ignorance, of the young officer was.
In an interview with Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), Yanez explained his reefer madness thinking:
“Uh, as that was happening as he was pulling at, out his hand 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. And, I let off the rounds and then after the rounds were off, the little girls was screaming…”
The problems with this statement are evident to most thinking and responsible adults, but let me break this down into three parts so everyone understands the ridiculousness of his comments and why a person like this should not be in law enforcement.
First, before we even get to the discussion of cannabis, lets look at the first 16 words in this comments to the investigators. He states, “ Uh, as that was happening as he was pulling at, out his hand I thought, I was gonna die…”
This thought immediately followed Philandro Castilles disclosure to the officer that her had a weapon in the car in an attempt to be forthcoming and avoid the exact situation that occurred. But, the officer never saw a weapon, or anything that even closely resembled a weapon. Castille had reached for his ID, which Ybanez had asked to see. Even though he just disclosed the presence of a firearm, this policeman thought Castille was going for a gun. Who would do that? Why would you tell a policeman you have a gun and then try to pull it out to shoot them? That was just pure fear and stupidity on the part of officer Ybanez.
Second, Ybanez explains an amazing thought process he had in the course of a few seconds. He explains to BCA investigators, “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…”
Are you kidding me? What does he think? Does he really believe that a person who smokes in front of their child in a car would have the propensity to kill a police officer? That’s just absurd. Would he feel the same about someone that was smoking a cigarette with their child in the car? What about someone that was white, or a woman? There are so many problems with that statement it would be absolutely laughable if a man weren’t dead from this pathetic officers ignorance and fear.
Third, that little girl was in the back seat of the car! There was a real possibility that he could have shot the child, or the passenger, with his overreaction to a simple traffic stop. He discharged a half dozen rounds into Castille before he began screaming out justifications like a small child that just shot a neighbors barking dog.
This was not a marijuana issue. This was a bad police shooting that they used marijuana as a scapegoat. This was a complete miscarriage of justice, nothing less.
We have a police problem in America, and it starts with the training and hiring of unqualified, scared, and ignorant people to supposedly protect and serve. In police departments all across the country, hiring practices fall woefully short on screening and psychological tests to insure the officers are not like Jeronimo Yanez … Ignorant, scared, untrained, and psychologically unstable. It will be a long time before I trust any police officers again … at least in ‘Merica.
Officer dash cam footage released June 19:
Castille’s girlfriends now famous video of the incident:
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