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Dayton has ‘profound’ and ‘difficult’ meeting with African American leaders after release of Castile video

Reverberations continue. At MPR, Tim Pugmire says: “Gov. Mark Dayton said he had a ‘profound’ and ‘difficult’ meeting Wednesday afternoon with African American leaders to discuss last week’s acquittal of the police officer who shot Philando Castile. … Minneapolis Urban League president Steven Belton said there’s much hurt and anger in the community about the verdict. ‘What I witnessed was a 21st-century execution or lynching. That’s what it looked like to me. And it dredged up all of those old cultural images, all of those old photographs, all of that old narrative became real and raw,’ said Belton. ‘Now you may have seen something different, but I’m speaking for what I saw, and for what people who I am in contact with and who we represent, what we saw.’”  

Julie Bosman and Mitch Smith of The New York Times interview a selection of experts in police procedure on the Castile incident. A sample: “‘The victim did everything right, everything he was supposed to do. The victim was very respectful, very polite, letting the officer know what he was doing. None of that made a difference.’— Paul Butler, law professor at Georgetown University and former federal prosecutor.”

And on the matter of reefer and madness, Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post tells readers: “The officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year told investigators that the smell of ‘burnt marijuana’ in Castile’s car made him believe his life was in danger. ‘I thought, I was gonna die,’ Officer Jeronimo Yanez told investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension fifteen hours after the shooting. ‘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.’”

At the Moyers & Company website, Shaun King writes, “According to American case law, if cops believe their life is in danger, it does not matter if it truly is or isn’t, all they have to do is believe it. The decades-old cases of Tennessee v Garner and Graham v Connor both shaped for future juries what police could and could not get away with. In essence, the decisions granted police the ability to act on what they reasonably believe to be a threat, real or imagined. The threat might not exist, but if it does in the head of the officer, and they act on that perceived threat, the law can grant them near immunity from prosecution.”

Oh, this will be popular. Says Brian Bakst for MPR, “State lawmakers have given Minnesota transportation officials an assignment: Study the feasibility of toll roads here and report back by January. That doesn’t mean general toll roads will arrive in Minnesota anytime soon. But, the study dovetails with President Donald Trump’s push to tie federal transportation money to private investment.”

KSTP-TV reports,A 9-year-old boy with special needs is safe after he took off from camp and had to be rescued from a marsh. Eden Prairie police were called to Camp Eden Wood just before 11:30 Tuesday morning. Searching began immediately but was difficult for crews because the reeds and cattails were taller than rescuers trudging through water and muck.”

Are you conversant in “reduced conflict intersections”? In the Red Wing Republican Eagle, Katie Nelson writes, “A new intersection design aimed at curbing fatalities is on the rise in Minnesota. Currently, 12 reduced conflict intersections are scattered across the state, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to nearly triple the amount in the next five years. Reduced conflict intersections consist of multi-lane high-speed expressways. Drivers can use these to turn left or right from the minor roadway onto the expressway or travel straight through an intersection by using the all four-expressway lanes.”

Seen any of these? Ivory Hecker at KARE-TV reports, “Counterfeit cash cases are on the uptick in Minnesota, according to Secret Service assistant special agent in charge Mark Johnson. Every week the Secret Service’s Minneapolis Field Office receives more fake money, turned in by local police departments and banks that have confiscated the counterfeit cash from across the state, said Johnson. The numbers are up this year but are not at their highest ever, said Johnson, adding that the problem of counterfeit cash ebbs and flows year to year.”  

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by James Hamilton on 06/22/2017 - 11:52 am.

    On Yanez’s thoughts on smelling marijuana.

    My immediate reaction upon reading Yanez’s statement (copied below) was an 8 letter word that wouldn’t be allowed here. (It’s not “lawyers”; that’s only seven letters.)

    Anyone who has watched the dash cam video knows by now that the statement is a lie. Events unfolded far too quickly for Yanez to have entertained such a complex thought before he pulled the trigger. I could go on to detail additional facts that belie the statement but those who choose to accept it will continue to do so.

    There is a greater problem with Yanez’s statement, one which I’ve not seen discussed. That is, the delay between the event and the taking of his statement. The shooting occurred at approximately 9:00 pm. on July 6. Yanez was interviewed on July 7, beginning at 1:42 p.m. Almost 17 hours had passed, during which Yanez had ample opportunity to consult with the two layers that accompanied him to the interview.

    By then, he’d already been primed to talk about having smelled marijuana. He volunteered the information, in a manner that indicates to me it had been rehearsed. (I’ve been an attorney for more than 30 years and have taken innumerable statements and deposed hundreds of witnesses. I can tell. Here’s a link to a transcript of that statement for those who’d like to evaluate it for themselves. )

    But, to my point: what other suspect is given 17 hours before being interviewed? None that I’m aware of. Yes, all those arrested are advised of their right to remain silent and to have an attorney present. But that’s not until they are arrested or, at the very least, are in custody.

    It’s been reported that Officer Yanez was not interviewed immediately because he needed time to recover from the shock of the event. With all due respect to the officer, no one other than a police officer is given such an opportunity to recover before being interviewed. Frankly, it’s a situation often taken advantage of by interviewers.

    Officer Yanez never said he’d seen a gun while giving his statement. The closest he came to doing so was to say, “he put his hand around something. And his hand made like a C shape type urn type shape and it appeared to me that he was wrapping something around his fingers and almost like if I were to put my uh hand[.]” Yet he testified at trial that he had seen a gun.

    Do I believe Officer Yanez? No. Did the jury? Enough to acquit, obviously, though I suspect more than one juror had doubts about his truthfulness and/or accuracy. Unfortunately, the jury did not have the opportunity to review his statement at their leisure, as I just did. (This is not intended as a criticism of the prosecution. When to use his statement was a judgment call. The fact that the judge denied the use of the video, which the jury would have been able to watch again, is regrettable and not a decision I believe most judges would have made.)

    The discussion of this event will continue for some time. It’s important that the discussion focus on what occurred and what, if anything, can be done to prevent it from occurring again. One of those things may be to interview officers involved in shootings in the same time frame as civilians would be, without providing any special treatment. Another would be for the Minnesota Supreme Court to revisit the rules on use of videotaped statements in cross-examination.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 06/22/2017 - 01:15 pm.


      The video was in and part of the prosecution’s case. It was the statement that didn’t get in after the prosecution tried to use it for impeachment.

      I had a discussion with some criminal defense lawyer friends (my criminal work is pretty limited these days) and they were all very critical of the decision not to introduce the statement and thought Leary was right to keep it out later. They thought -to varying degrees – that the whole prosecution was incompetent.

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