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Police officers involved in shooting of Philando Castile identified

Plus: five police killed in Dallas during protests; Dayton calls Castile’s death “absolutely appalling on all levels”; and more.

People gather outside the Governor's Residence on Thursday to protest the fatal shooting of Philando Castile.
REUTERS/Adam Bettcher

For the Pioneer Press, Mara H. Gottfried and Sarah Horner write: A four-year veteran of the St. Anthony police department was identified late Thursday as the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop Wednesday. Officer Jeronimo Yanez fired the shots in the case, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension late Thursday. The agency also noted that officer Joseph Kauser, who has also been with the St. Anthony police department for four years, took part in the traffic stop. … Castile, 32, of St. Paul, was driving and Yanez approached that side of the vehicle, while Kauser came up from the passenger side.

Meawhile, in Dallas, The New York Times writes: “Five Dallas police officers were killed and six others were wounded by snipers on Thursday night during a demonstration protesting the police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana this week, according to Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas police. Chief Brown said the shooting was carried out by two snipers who fired down on a demonstration in the city’s downtown area that until then had been peaceful.”

Also in the Times: Richard Fausset and Campbell Robertson report, “High-profile police shootings of black men, like those this week of Alton Sterling [in Louisiana] and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., continue, and so does the outrage. What has changed is the degree to which even small communities, unaccustomed to the glare of international publicity, have begun to consider, and in some cases develop, more carefully planned responses to the crises in contrast with the tight-lipped and sometimes antagonistic reactions of the past. One of the key realizations in recent years is that no action can be assumed to remain in obscurity given how fast information and rumor spread across social networks. The old rules of engagement — the ‘no comment,’ the reluctance to release information, the waiting for the evening news — no longer work, said Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum.”

For the New York Daily News, Shaun King writes, “While police brutality is not new to us, social media makes it such that atrocities that were once exclusively local are now decidedly international. The world watched Alton Sterling and Philando Castile die at the hands of police. Stories that would’ve previously been shared in homes and churches in small towns, are now viral hashtags and trending topics. Anyone who says we’ve always had this same brutality, but that social media just magnifies it, isn’t being completely honest. The problem is getting worse AND social media is making us all aware of just how much worse the problem is getting. Extrajudicial deaths of men, women and children at the hands of police have never been this widespread in the history of America. Police killings, to that end, are nothing more than legal lynchings — state-sponsored violence which disproportionately targets African-Americans and other people of color. It feels like genocide. It feels like terrorism.”

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From a trio of Washington Post reporters: “In front of protesters at the governor’s mansion, [Gov. Mark] Dayton had tried to console relatives of the driver, Philando Castile, 32, who died Wednesday night at a Minneapolis hospital. ‘I can’t tell you how sorry I am that this terrible tragedy was forced upon your family,’ he said. ‘I don’t want you guys to say you’re sorry!’ shot back Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, her retort echoed by the surrounding crowd. ‘I want justice.’ Their terse and public exchange, captured on national television, encapsulated the frustrations of African Americans in the community here and across the nation. Through the night, demonstrators rallied against police brutality, in front of the White House and in New York’s Times Square, where police made several arrests. Protesters marched in Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Civil rights activists have noted how police officers are rarely charged in fatal shootings and how, in many cases, key details often remain unknown, including the identities of many officers involved.”

Without question. For MPR, Camila Domonoske and Bill Chappell report, “At a press conference Thursday, [Gov.] Dayton called the shooting ‘totally unacceptable.’ He said he found both the shooting and the aftermath ‘absolutely appalling at all levels,’ noting in particular that no first aid was provided to Castile, while other police officers did attend to the officer who fired the shots. Dayton also criticized the ‘stark treatment’ of Reynolds by police. ‘Justice will be served,’ Dayton said. ‘Justice must be served.’ ‘Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white?’ said Dayton. ‘I don’t think it would have. So I’m forced to confront, and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront, that this kind of racism exists.’”

For NBC News, John Schuppe writes, “Nine months after [Michael] Brown’s death, [President] Obama’s panel published a blueprint for reform that centered on building trust and improving public perceptions of police legitimacy. Among the myriad recommendations were the adoption of comprehensive policies on the use of force that placed a “clearly stated ‘sanctity of life’ philosophy” in the front of officers’ minds, enforced during frequent training and backed up with the robust collection of data on all violent encounters with the public. But the report is only a recommendation. The federal government cannot compel America’s roughly 18,000 local police agencies to adopt any particular policies. Its own data collection on fatal shootings by police is, by all accounts, incomplete, a shortcoming that researchers and reformers say prevents the country from figuring out ways to prevent the encounters.”

For MPR’s sister station, KPCC in Pasadena, Elina Shatkin writes, “The controversial death of two black men — Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minneapolis, Minnesota — thousands of miles away at the hands of police officers have resonated with some Los Angeles residents. ‘They’re all combined, like a spoke on a tire,’ says activist Najee Ali. ‘So anytime someone is shot and killed in a confrontational, controversial shooting, whether it be Minnesota or Baton Rouge, South L.A. feels and identifies with their pain and anguish.’

For the San Jose Mercury News, Robert Salonga says,[Diamond Reynolds] punctuated a national paradigm shift forming since Ferguson, in which citizens and police watchdogs combine cellphone videos with social media to seize the narratives of controversial and racially charged police encounters, and pre-empt official accounts they often contend are sanitized for the public. In the Bay Area and beyond, law enforcement officials and those tasked with keeping them in check are reaching a consensus about the immediacy of live video: This is the new normal, and it’s going to control how these horrific events play out from now on. ‘These events are now being defined by people in the community,’ said Walter Katz, San Jose’s independent police auditor and a nationally recognized police-accountability advocate. ‘They’re framing the incident within moments of it occurring. This has implications for how government agencies respond, and how media responds.’ To others, Reynolds provided a survival guide for people of color scared that something as innocuous as a busted taillight — the violation that led to her and Castile being stopped by police in the first place — could end in tragedy.”

For The Huffington Post, Rev. Al Sharpton writes, “For years, organizations like my National Action Network have pushed for accountability and reform across the board. We have repeatedly stated that the problem is not isolated; it’s not a Louisiana problem; it’s not a Minnesota problem; it’s not a Staten Island problem — it’s a national problem that requires national reform of police culture and the criminal justice system itself. Nothing short of that will turn this calamity around. We must have independent investigations and prosecutions so that police are held accountable by an objective neutral entity, and the community is assured that there isn’t even an appearance of a conflict of interest. Officers cannot be investigated by those that they interact with on a daily or regular basis — that is common sense. Secondly, there must be extensive training and residency requirements that police live in the cities that they serve. That is the only way that they will respect and treat that community fairly.”

Fox News radio asks its listeners to vote. “Cop Shootings In Baton Rouge & Minnesota-Justified Or Overreaction?” Place your bets on how that goes.

At Salon, Sirry Alang says, “There is a lot of emotional labor associated with staying safe as a black man. Emotional labor means the effort exerted by black men to separate themselves from situations and stereotypes that might get them into trouble. Black people worry about everyday things like walking, driving and wearing a hoodie — and for Alton Sterling, selling music in front of a convenience store. Philando Castile should just not have been black at the wrong place and time. If a black man is stopped by the police, it could easily lead to bogus or exaggerated charges, punishment that is much greater than the crime, a criminal record to follow him over the course of his life, or a life in prison — that is if he is not shot and killed on the streets.”

At The Atlantic, Vann Newkirk says, “Philando Castile, a 32-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. He was alleged to be armed. A widely-circulated video of the incident, in which Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds reacted after Castile had been shot — the officer still training his gun on him — kicked off protests in the streets of the Twin Cities. The next shooting may not come tonight or tomorrow. By the math, though, every two days a black person of some age — 14 or 18 or 43 or 37 — armed or unarmed, sober or under the influence, resisting arrest or providing officers with identification will be shot and killed by an officer or officers. Video of the incident will likely be circulated. Protests will likely follow. But any sort of end to this violence remains truly unlikely. According to The Guardian’s “The Counted” project, Sterling was the 560th person killed by police this year. Castile was the 561st.”

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In the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Hartlaub and Marissa Lang say, “While videos of police shootings have become almost pervasive in recent years, the Thursday shooting death of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Minnesota is a landmark. It’s the highest-profile case where the immediate aftermath was captured in real time, aided by the live-streaming feature Facebook Live. There were no media gatekeepers or police officials deciding what information would be released. It was Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, having a conversation with anyone who had access to Facebook while he died beside her. The potential impact of such unfiltered documentation depends on whom you ask. While police worry about a rush to judgment based on an incomplete narrative, activists believe the access allowed by personal cameras allows their side, long invisible, to be seen. For the longer term, another question arises: Will seeing multiple police shooting in short periods motivate a fed-up populace, or will people become jaded to the events and accept them as the norm?

At the conservative website Hot Air, local writer Rachel Lu says, “Conservatives like cops. We’re law and order people, so we need to believe that the good guys are the ones with the badges. We’re anxious to do our part to protect the boys in blue from race-baiting liberals and delusional social justice warriors. … Policing is an honorable profession. A cop is a person who has volunteered to put his own safety on the line to protect yours. That’s impressive, and we should respect it. Here’s the thing about honorable professions, though. When people are entrusted with noble and good work, it’s always possible that they might betray that trust. The consequences of that betrayal can be very ugly indeed. In the words of the ancients, corruptio optimi pessima. The corruption of the best produces the worst.”

As for the Second Amendment rights angle, Melanie Eversley of USA Today reports, “When police in Falcon Heights, Minn., stopped the car in which Philando Castile, 32, was riding on Wednesday night, Castile attempted to give them his license and registration, as requested. He also told them he was a licensed weapon owner … . As Castile put his hands up, police fired into his arm four times, according to the video. He was pronounced dead later at a hospital. ‘I’m waiting to hear the human outcry from Second Amendment defenders over (this incident),’ NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks told USA TODAY Thursday. Brooks was preparing to travel to Minnesota to get up to speed on the Castile case after a trip to Baton Rouge, La., to get details on the police-involved shooting of another black man earlier this week. ‘When it comes to an African American with a license to carry a firearm, it appears that his pigmentation, his degree of pigmentation, is more important than the permit or license to carry a firearm,’ Brooks said. ‘One would hope and pray that’s not true.’ Tweeted author and TV commentator Keith Boykin: ‘Does the Second Amendment only apply to White People?’”