The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences


Philandro Castile’s insurance card in the pocket of officer Jeronimo Yanez after he shot and killed Castile during a traffic stop

by Thomas L. Knapp…….

On June 16, a jury acquitted St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez of all charges in the 2016 killing of motorist Philando Castile. That acquittal was, in a sense, also a death sentence — not for Yanez, but for future motorists unfortunate enough to encounter cops like him.

No, this is not a “bad cop” story. It’s a sad tale and I actually feel sorry for Yanez. But the facts are what they are.

Yanez killed Castile. The killing was caught on video and neither Yanez nor his attorneys denied it.

His defense (that he feared for his life) was based on ridiculous grounds relating to the smell of cannabis and the presence of a child  (“I thought, I was gonna die, and I thought if he’s, if he has the, the guts and the audacity to smoke marijuana in front of the five year old girl and risk her lungs and risk her life by giving her secondhand smoke and the front seat passenger doing the same thing, then what, what care does he give about me?”).

Reasonable fear of death or grievous bodily harm justifies a self-defense claim. Yanez’s fears were far from reasonable, especially in a trained law enforcement officer whose partner was mere feet away and whose subject of interrogation was peaceful and compliant right up to the moment Yanez shot him.

Castile had informed Yanez that he possessed a concealed weapon and a permit for it, and was following Yanez’s orders to produce the permit when Yanez panicked and fired.

Key word: Panicked. His fear wasn’t justified. It wasn’t reasonable. It was unthinking and irrational. That made him culpably negligent in the killing.

Jeronimo Yanez should have never been issued a badge, a gun, a patrol car, and authority to pull over and interrogate motorists. But he was. That’s a failure of pre-employment psychological screening.

Once Yanez DID receive those items and that authority, the responsibility for what he did with them became his as well. Yes, it was a heavy responsibility, but one he voluntarily assumed and failed to fulfill.

The jury, in relieving him of the consequences of that failure, continued a sad tradition of holding law enforcement officers to a lesser standard of conduct than ordinary Americans. In doing so, they made the world a safer place for cops who shouldn’t be cops — and a more dangerous place for the rest of us.


Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.

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6 thoughts on “The Castile Doctrine: Cops Without Consequences

  1. police misconduct does not exist. these homicidal scum are not the result of bad training, character flaws, faulty hiring practices, or anything else. they are performing precisely as directed. the judicial exoneration of these “protectors” is not accidental, due to ineffective council, poorly written laws, dim witted juries, or anything else.

    we live in a police state; their actions are state sanctioned and protected. just as the US military enforces the state’s will over the world, our domestic police force do the same over us.

    it will only get worse.

  2. The cops know that they are going to get away with it and that is why they do it.

    The prosecutors and the judges are all in on it too. You have seen that in the Baltimore police murder. The black prosecutor gave inappropriate charges against the cop . She knew the jury would have to acquit .

    The South Carolina case also was rigged . The cop murdered a black man by shooting him in the back as he ran. They conned the jury into believing that since the suspect was running away, it became a felony at that point and that the cop had the legal right to shoot him

    Police are given pay raises and promotions based on their arrest -conviction ratios. This is an incentive for them to pack the court houses with lawyer paying customers. The prosecutors usually rig the grand jury questions to favor the cop so they cant be charged.

    If the police get upset for one of their officers being charged and the prosecutor and judges and prosecutors dont rig the trail for an acquittal , they will retaliate by not making anymore arrest. What that would do is empty the court houses of lawyer paying customers. Nobody would be making any money off of the law industry

  3. I hope the Castile family sue St. Anthony and individual police who allowed this child to wear a uniform and carry a gun. Too much unjustified killing going on these days. Remember Charles Eimers.

  4. A very capable, articulate recap of this case, Thomas. Thank you.

    I realize that you’re restricted to 450 words: So, how about a companion piece outlining how the community/culture that Yanez served was complicit in this crime? And, they clearly were…as evidenced by the incomprehensible verdict rendered by a “jury of his peers”. In essence, the community validated Castile’s murder. No other way to say it.

    FWIW, I lived over half my life in that neck of the woods…Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois. It is a cesspool freely displaying the entire spectrum of societal enmities; incorporating racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, ancestral, economic, political, familial…and virtually any other social “evil” you can imagine. I call it “tribal”…

    By contrast, I find the much-disparaged “South” to be much more relaxed. Of course, the warmth adds mightily to my contentment. 😉


      1. Entirely my pleasure, sir! I do follow your writings. You raise valid questions and freely share articulate, lucid thoughts and ideas. That’s why I feel confident in presenting alternative thoughts and ideas, where I feel it is appropriate. You don’t respond in any offensive fashion…and I don’t ever intend to offend. I’ll leave that task to the mere mortals among us. 😉

        On the serious side…I do strongly believe that the communities which support such heinous activities of their “protectors” also share in the responsibility for the consequences of such actions: The community as a whole owns it…lock, stock and barrel. It’s a damned shame that such prejudices are so deeply ingrained in that society…that DWB can be comfortably considered a capital offense. Something is dreadfully wrong there. Don’t care what anybody says.

        Looking forward to your next entry on the subject. Thank you, again.


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