in which it is asserted that white is black (or is it black is white?)

 

 

while we are asked to disbelieve our own eyes

and  dismiss common sense

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

I said, “there was a society of men among us, bred up youth in the art of proving, by words multiplied for the purpose, that white is black, and black is white, according as they are paid. To this society all the rest of the people are slaves.

 

— Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels

 

 

 

*****************************************************

 

 

The New York Times

June 16, 2017

re acquittal of a Minnesota police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, of all charges in the shooting of Philander Castile

 

 

The case against Officer Yanez … hinged on one central question: Did the officer have reason to fear that Mr. Castile was reaching for a gun that he had acknowledged having with him when he was pulled over by the officer?

Officer Yanez testified that he feared Mr. Castile was grabbing for the gun, but Mr. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, said he had merely been reaching for his identification to give the officer. …

Earl Gray, a lawyer for Officer Yanez, said he was gratified with the outcome, but frustrated that charges were ever brought.

The state didn’t have a case in the first place,” Mr. Gray said in an interview on Friday evening after the acquittal. “But because of the protests and the political pressure, I suppose you’d call it, he was charged and he had to go into court and defend himself.”

… the case had centered chiefly on the conflicting accounts of what Mr. Castile, a longtime school cafeteria worker whom Officer Yanez had pulled over for a broken taillight at twilight on a summer evening, was doing before he was shot.

Prosecutors said Officer Yanez had created a dangerous situation, perceived a threat where none existed and, in addition to killing Mr. Castile, almost wounded Ms. Reynolds and her young daughter [the couple’s child] in the back seat.

“He was making assumptions and jumping to conclusions without engaging in the dialogue he was trained to have in a citizen encounter like this,” Jeffrey Paulsen, a prosecutor, said in closing arguments. “And that’s his fault, not the fault of Philando Castile.”

Mr. Castile was licensed to carry a gun and was recorded on a dashboard camera video calmly telling Officer Yanez that he had a weapon in the car. Officer Yanez told him not to reach for the weapon, and Mr. Castile and Ms. Reynolds both tried to assure the officer that he was not doing so. Within seconds, Officer Yanez fired seven shots.

Prosecutors said Mr. Castile had mentioned his gun to allay concerns, not to threaten the officer or escalate the situation. “If someone were just about to reach in their pocket and pull out a gun and shoot an officer, that’s the last thing they would say,” Mr. Paulsen said.

 

*****************************************************

 

 

Mr. Gray, the defense lawyer, said Officer Yanez had to react quickly to what he believed was an imminent threat. He said Officer Yanez smelled marijuana, believed that Mr. Castile matched the description of a recent robbery suspect and saw him grabbing a gun.

We have him ignoring his commands. He’s got a gun. He might be the robber. He’s got marijuana in his car,” Mr. Gray told jurors. “Those are the things in Officer Yanez’s head.”

Officer Yanez did not tell Mr. Castile about the robbery suspicions, only that his brake light was out. But Mr. Gray said that this approach made sense, and that Officer Yanez had acted reasonably given his training and what he knew that night.

He did what he had to do,” Mr. Gray said, adding that the situation was “tragic.” …

We’re not saying that Philando Castile was going to shoot Officer Yanez,” Mr. Gray said. “What we’re saying is that he did not follow orders. He was stoned.”

But Mr. Paulsen, the prosecutor, said that version of events was contradicted by video. He said footage showed that Mr. Castile was driving normally, pulled over quickly and was alert and courteous when talking to Officer Yanez. He accused the defense of blaming the victim.

“He offered no resistance,” Mr. Paulsen said of Mr. Castile. “He made no threats. He didn’t even complain about being stopped for such a minor offense.”

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   June 2017

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer based in Queens, New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. His interests include personal essays and opinion pieces, memoirs, American and world literature, music, baseball, and genealogy. Mr. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Brandeis University and a master’s degree in journalism, as well as an M.B.A., both from New York University. Mr. Smith also hosts the scholarly website dreiseronline.com
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