The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile last summer was fired from the St. Anthony Police Department last Friday after he was acquitted of all charges related to the shooting.
“The City of St. Anthony has concluded that the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city,” St. Anthony city officials said in a statement. “The city intends to offer Officer Yanez a voluntary separation agreement to help him transition to another career other than being a St. Anthony officer.”
The terms of that agreement have yet to be negotiated, but in the meantime Yanez will not return to active duty.
Yanez was cleared of second-degree manslaughter in court, as well as two lesser charges related to endangering Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her young daughter, who were in the car during the shooting.
The officer pulled over Castile, 32, in July of last year for a broken taillight. When the driver informed Yanez he was carrying a firearm, the officer quickly pulled out his service pistol and fired into the vehicle five times, killing Castile.
Yanez’s defense attorney said the officer “did what he had to do” during the trial, arguing Yanez feared for his life when Castile appeared to be reaching for his gun.
In recently released dash cam footage, Castile’s girlfriend can be heard saying that Castile was, in fact, reaching for his wallet to retrieve his I.D., as the officer requested.
The shooting has been widely criticized as another example of police misconduct, an issue that has gained much traction since the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.
According to the Star Tribune, Yanez had attended a police seminar called “The Bulletproof Warrior” in May of 2014, a series of classes that encouraged police officers to use their service weapon the second they feel they are in danger.
Critics have taken issue with the way many police officers are trained, arguing they are too quick to escalate situations to violence.
“Police training became very militaristic and it caused a lot of the problems that are going on in the nation,” said Michael Becar, executive director of the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training.
An owner of the firm that provides the Bulletproof Warrior classes, Calibre Press, defended the company.
“Our mission is to save everyone’s lives,” said Calibre CEO Lisa Gitchell. “We go to bed every night knowing that we did the right thing. We train officers to treat people with dignity and respect.”
Footage from a Bulletproof Warrior course is depicted in a 2016 documentary film entitled “Do Not Resist,” wherein police trainer Dave Grossman gives his students a bit of extremely bizarre sexual advice, according to a report at the Washington Post:
In the class recorded for “Do Not Resist,” Grossman at one point tells his students that the sex they have after they kill another human being will be the best sex of their lives. The room chuckles. But he’s clearly serious. “Both partners are very invested in some very intense sex,” he says. “There’s not a whole lot of perks that come with this job. You find one, relax and enjoy it.”
While officer Yanez attended classes taught by Grossman’s business partner, Jim Glennon, the film excerpt raises questions about the training given to law enforcement officers and the way police respond to perceived threats.
Ironically, Philando Castile himself had taken gun safety courses with a Minnesota company called Total Defense in May of 2015. The course taught students to react calmly and to comply totally with with police in the case of a traffic stop with a firearm in the vehicle.
It appears both men were following their training, but only one of them walked away from the encounter.
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