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Officer Claimed He Shot Philando Castile Because of Secondhand Smoke

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As you probably know, the officer who killed Philando Castile was acquitted of manslaughter and two other charges last week. (This was the incident where Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.) The squad car’s dashcam video was made public yesterday for the first time, and watching that makes it even less possible (if that’s possible) to understand the jury’s decision. But even more astounding is the transcript also released yesterday showing that the officer, Jeronimo Yanez, told investigators last year that he smelled marijuana as he approached the car, and that just before he opened fire, the thought going through his mind was that Castile was a dangerous man because he had been exposing others to secondhand smoke:

That is actually something an adult human said: I was afraid this person would be willing to murder a police officer for no reason because it smelled like he had been doing something that might slightly increase the risk of disease to others if he kept it up for another decade or so. (At least according to some experts.) If this man is willing to subject others to secondhand smoke, certainly he would not hesitate to murder me.

This deep concern that Yanez had about the health of Castile’s five-year-old daughter, supposedly, is part of what led him to fire seven bullets at Castile, the driver, while the girl was sitting in the back seat in the line of fire:

Or maybe he was pulling out a pack of smokes? We shouldn’t second-guess officers when it comes to using deadly force to protect citizens from potential long-term health risks.

In fact, Castile had just volunteered the fact that he had a gun in the car (a gun he was licensed to carry), which doesn’t seem like something you’d do if you were just about to reach for it and try to shoot someone. It actually seems like something you’d do if you didn’t want anybody to get hurt, especially yourself. But according to Yanez, it was secondhand smoke, not this, that went through his mind just before opening fire.

Of course, I don’t know what other evidence was presented to the jury. The Ramsey County Attorney’s Office has put the transcript, videos, and some other key evidence on its website, so you can see that if you want and decide for yourself. But I assume the jury saw the transcript of this interview, and frankly I don’t know how you hear somebody give that ridiculous explanation and not vote to convict him of something. (The jury was apparently split 10-2 in favor of acquittal, but eventually the two holdouts gave in.)

I guess if you wanted to, you could argue that now we know the risks of secondhand smoke really are substantial, because among other things it might frighten a cop into putting five bullets in your chest. You might as well give it a shot, because the risks of making stupid arguments appear to be virtually nonexistent these days.

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jhamill
1 day ago
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He can't remember how many rounds he fired into a car, in the direction of a baby, that killed a man but, he can remember he was scared that the guy was crazed because of second hand smoke? And we're supposed to take that seriously?
California
acdha
1 day ago
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I hadn't seen this detail before…
Washington, DC
skittone
2 days ago
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Ugh.
popular
1 day ago
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toddgrotenhuis
1 day ago
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Indianapolis
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Once Per Day

4 Comments and 13 Shares
I'm not totally locked into my routine—twice a year, I take a break to change the batteries in my smoke detectors.
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popular
2 days ago
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4 public comments
Covarr
1 day ago
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Notably absent: hygiene.
Moses Lake, WA
alt_text_bot
2 days ago
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I'm not totally locked into my routine—twice a year, I take a break to change the batteries in my smoke detectors.
jasonh09
2 days ago
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Living the life!
Lythimus
2 days ago
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The only way to be sure you'll live a statistically long life.

The Philosophy Force Five vs the Scientismists

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Some people are going to say this was an unfair portrayal of Sam Harris, but considering I didn't have him say anything openly sexist, I'd say it was pretty generous.
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tante
4 days ago
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The Philosophy Force Five vs the Scientismists
Oldenburg/Germany
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2 days ago
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toddgrotenhuis
2 days ago
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Indianapolis
wmorrell
3 days ago
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Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Geopolitics

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Click here to go see the bonus panel!

Hovertext:
All pain is massage now!

New comic!
Today's News:

Hey Houstonians! We need your proposals for BAHFest. Come be part of the show with Jorge Cham, and astronaut Nicole Stott!

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2 days ago
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What bullets do to bodies

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Emergency room doctor Leana Wen writes in the NY Times about what bullets do to human bodies.

Early in my medical training, I learned that it is not the bullet that kills you, but the damage from the bullet. A handgun bullet enters the body in a straight line. Like a knife, it damages the organs and tissues directly in its path, and then it either exits the body or is stopped by bone, tissue or skin.

This is in contrast to bullets from an assault rifle. They are three times the speed of handgun bullets. Once they enter the body, they fragment and explode, pulverizing bones, tearing blood vessels and liquefying organs.

Earlier this year, Jason Fagone wrote a much longer piece on the same topic for HuffPost.

“As a country,” Goldberg said, “we lost our teachable moment.” She started talking about the 2012 murder of 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Goldberg said that if people had been shown the autopsy photos of the kids, the gun debate would have been transformed. “The fact that not a single one of those kids was able to be transported to a hospital, tells me that they were not just dead, but really really really really dead. Ten-year-old kids, riddled with bullets, dead as doornails.” Her voice rose. She said people have to confront the physical reality of gun violence without the polite filters. “The country won’t be ready for it, but that’s what needs to happen. That’s the only chance at all for this to ever be reversed.”

She dropped back into a softer register. “Nobody gives two shits about the black people in North Philadelphia if nobody gives two craps about the white kids in Sandy Hook. … I thought white little kids getting shot would make people care. Nope. They didn’t care. Anderson Cooper was up there. They set up shop. And then the public outrage fades.”

I think about this tweet all the time:

In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over.

Tags: guns   Jason Fagone   Leana Wen   medicine
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jhamill
7 days ago
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That tweet gets me every time I see it. I am dumbfounded that American love for guns is greater than anything else.
California
mxm23
7 days ago
Guns are a powerful symbol for perceived freedom. And freedom is embedded in the national psyche of America. To take away guns represents a notch down in perceived freedom. It's not logical. It's not rational.
popular
5 days ago
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wmorrell
5 days ago
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satadru
5 days ago
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New York, NY
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kbrint
7 days ago
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Sad but true.

Stack Overflow Survey: Developers Who Use Spaces Make More Money Than Those Who Use Tabs

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David Robinson, writing for Stack Overflow:

There were 28,657 survey respondents who provided an answer to tabs versus spaces and who considered themselves a professional developer (as opposed to a student or former programmer). Within this group, 40.7% use tabs and 41.8% use spaces (with 17.5% using both). Of them, 12,426 also provided their salary.

Analyzing the data leads us to an interesting conclusion. Coders who use spaces for indentation make more money than ones who use tabs, even if they have the same amount of experience.

As a devout user of tabs, I find this hard to believe. Jiminy. This is like finding out that people who move their lips while they read make more money.

Peter Bright’s reaction:

Developers who use tabs to indent their code, developers who fight for truth and justice and all that is good in the world, those developers have a median salary of $43,750.

But developers who use spaces to indent their code, developers who side with evil and probably spend all day kicking kittens and punching puppies? Their median salary is $59,140.

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wmorrell
8 days ago
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17.5% using both tabs and spaces? I mean, I know it's *possible* to indent with tabstops then align with spaces, but I have never seen it done that way in practice for *any* code touched by more than one person. Usually I see some monstrosity that has random spaces interspersed between tabs, or tries using tabs for visual alignment, usually by the genius that sets the editor tabstop to 5 spaces because prime numbers.
reconbot
7 days ago
Probably not at the same time
vl
6 days ago
For example, Google mandates spaces for C++ and tabs for Go. If you use both languages at work...
samuel
8 days ago
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My first job out of college I was forced to switch from tabs to spaces. Good thing, too, because spaces ensure accuracy and correctness between different environments, whereas tabs mean multiple developers will see different documents. It shouldn't be that way but it is.

Tabs reflect principle, spaces reflect reality.
The Haight in San Francisco
tdknox
8 days ago
Agreed. Devout user of spaces here. I've been hosed way too often by multiple people committing Python code to a repo with different tab stops. Was forced to mandate spaces only. Much bitching, wailing and gnashing of teeth followed, but amazingly, a lot of the code conflicts disappeared as if by magic. :)
codesujal
8 days ago
Could the growth of spacing sensitive languages like Python have driven the salary delta? Python is huge in machine learning, which is red hot. Each of those developers could affect the average more than a group of web developers... :)
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7 days ago
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dukeofwulf
7 days ago
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Only half of respondents provided salaries. Possible sampling bias?
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