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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/30/17

A Jury in Minneapolis Has Blood on Its Hands

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Philando Castile Verdict
Philando Castile Verdict
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When police kill innocent, peaceful people, public scrutiny turns to the police: their tactics, their training, their professionalism or lack thereof.

But average citizens rarely look at themselves. That in truth is where the problem lies.

Who killed Philando Castile and Justine Damond? Any and every American who remained silent about police homicide before the fatal shots were fired.

A jury of your peers. How many prosecuted by an unjust state throughout time would not have wished for that? Such a jury would be wise and courageous, not subservient to the state and the police. The injustice would surely be thwarted, no?

Where is the jury for Philando Castile and Justine Damond? Where is their exoneration?

An American jury was assembled to judge St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez of firing seven shots into the chest of an unresisting and compliant Philando Castile as he sat in a car doing exactly what Yanez told him to do.

The jury graciously gave Yanez what Yanez did not give Philando Castile, the benefit of the doubt, the full benefit of the doubt. Who could know, they reasoned, that Police Officer Yanez did not in fact fear for his life?

But what if Philando Castile, fearing for his life -- which was in fact about to be unjustly taken -- had drawn his legally possessed weapon first and saved his life by shooting Yanez first? Who really believes any jury in America would have afforded Castile the same beneficial doubt the Yanez jury afforded him? So bury the unfortunate black man, set the police officer who killed him free, go home to your family and forget about it. It's over, juror number-X.

But just 30 days later, another law-abiding Minnesota citizen made a fatal mistake. She called the police to report a crime. Minutes later she lay dying, a bullet fired by another Minnesota police officer into her abdomen.

The Yanez juries had made the death of Justine Damond or someone like her a matter-of-time inevitability, like the overwhelming majority of American juries who hear the case of a police officer accused of unjustly killing a human being.

Justine Damond is dead in large part because the Yanez jury, like nearly every American jury hearing a case of wrongful death caused by a police officer, sends by acquittal or by failure to reach a verdict the same message, "Regardless of the evidence, regardless of the law, regardless of the pain and suffering you have caused, we will not convict you of anything. We actively support the covenant of absolute immunity you enjoy, and we will not under any circumstances do anything to undermine it."

American prosecutors in many U.S. jurisdictions are now actually starting to file charges when the evidence points to criminal liability in what can only be described as a rampage of police homicide nationwide. But so far they are being defeated each and every time by the very juries they impanel.

The Washington Post reports U.S. police nationwide are on track to kill over 1,000 people for the third straight year. Nothing will mitigate the killing more effectively than accountability for excessive use of force by police officers who engage in it.

When juries ignore evidence because the defendant is a police officer, the killing accelerates. As that happens, communities become far more dangerous for residents and law enforcement personnel alike. It's time for American juries to stop being extensions of the police.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News:

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