Thanks to his attorney’s statements, Officer Jeronimo Yanez’s side of the story is getting out. Tom Kelly, Officer Yanez’s attorney, is getting word out that there’s much more to the story than what’s been told thus far, saying “The shooting had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the presence of that gun”, adding that Mr. Castile “was not following the directions of the police officer.”
This investigation is just getting started, meaning that they’re just starting to connect the dots. Still, it’s clear that a significant portion of the early reporting didn’t tell the whole truth. I suspect that we still aren’t getting everything but the pieces of the puzzle are starting to fit together a bit better.
One thing, though, that’s clear is that Gov. Dayton’s initial statements on the Philando Castile were ill-advised. That’s when he said “Would this have happened if those passengers would have been white? I don’t think it would have. I’m forced to confront — and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront — this kind of racism exists, and that it’s incumbent upon all of us to vow that we’re going to do whatever we can to see that it doesn’t continue to happen.”
It was always known that Diamond Reynolds’ account wasn’t the final word. It was dramatic. It showed part of the story. It was never going to be the final word on what happened. It’s been known that Gov. Dayton’s statements would quickly proven as ill-advised.
Gov. Dayton should’ve waited. Had he done so, he might’ve learned this:
An audio clip purporting to capture the moments just before Castile was stopped by Yanez seems to indicate that the officer believed he and Reynolds ‘looked’ like suspects in a robbery.
“I’m going to stop a car, I’m going to check ID’s,” the officer can be heard saying in the recording, obtained by KARE 11. “I have reason to pull it over. The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery.”
The officer then tells dispatch he believes the driver looks like one of the suspects because of his ‘wide set nose’. Less than two minutes later an officer screams that shots have been fired and that it’s a ‘code 3’. The license plate mentioned by police in the recording matches the plate of the car Castile was driving, and the location the officers give to dispatch matches where the traffic stop took place.
It is not yet clear what alleged robbery the officer in the recording was referring to.
In light of the fact that there is audio indicating that the stop was happening because the officer thought the car was used in a robbery, it isn’t difficult to think that Officer Yanez was worried for his safety. Couple that with the claim that Officer Yanez told Castile not to move. If it’s proven that Officer Yanez issued that command and that Castile didn’t obey Officer Yanez’s order, that’s a potentially explosive situation.
It’s time to consider the possibility that this tragedy wasn’t about racism but that it might’ve been about a potentially dangerous situation and a motorist who didn’t obey a police officer’s commands.