Recently, former police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter after he shot and killed Philando Castille on a routine traffic stop. Castille was armed, but reportedly told Yanez that he was licensed to carry. Yanez still ended up shooting him when he believed that Castille reached for his gun as opposed to his wallet. It was yet another high profile shooting of a black man by police (though this time by a Hispanic and not white officer), and once again the public (particularly the black community) was outraged when the officer was acquitted of all charges. Cries of racism, systemic racism, and injustice filled social media again.
Much of this reaction is understandable. While critics might argue, somewhat correctly, that the way the media chooses to cover these events gives off the impression that cops just go around shooting black people for no reason when that statistically isn’t supported, it’s still disturbing how some of these incidents go down. Certainly, the Castille shooting looks very fishy at first glance, and nobody wants to see such stories whether they are rare or not. Nonetheless, people need to be better at calmly and rationally evaluating these incidents without jumping to emotional conclusions, and they need to ask themselves this simple question: Was there enough evidence to criminally convict? If not, no matter how we feel, an acquittal is the right decision for the jury to make. Pointing this out is not racist, insensitive, or apathetic to injustice; it’s simply an acknowledgement of the facts as well as the limitations of our human courts.