Last July, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop as Castile was reaching for his ID. This past Friday, a jury acquitted Yanez of all charges, including manslaughter.
Trevor spent this week puzzling over why.
The Facebook Live video that Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed directly after he was shot reveals that all the usual horrific and half-baked justifications didn’t seem to apply. Castile wasn’t wearing a hoodie. He wasn’t fleeing. He disclosed to Yanez that he owned a firearm and had a license for it.
While filming Tuesday’s show, Trevor reflected on the shooting by opening up to the studio audience about his own experience as a black man in America. He highlighted the seeming impossibility of behaving in the “right way” to avoid police brutality as a person of color.
Sussing out how to address the kind of bias Trevor’s talking about has been a burgeoning area of research, especially in light of such high-profile shootings. The Obama administration tried to address systemic racism in police departments with its Task Force on 21st Century Policing. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears uninterested in addressing police abuses. In fact, he’s actually pursued measures to stop investigations that look into this kind of ongoing misconduct.
The discouraging state of police reform makes the newly released dashcam footage from Castile’s death even more disturbing.
Disgust over the Yanez verdict has found a home on both the right and the left. As Trevor points out, the ruling has made it clearer than ever how powerful — and how systemically accepted — racism is in America.