This is going to make some people angry. For that I apologize. This also needs to be said, so I’m saying it.
For the record, since many of you out there reading this might have no idea, I’ll clarify where I’m coming from. I’m speaking in this article from the viewpoint of a firearms instructor. I’m not speaking as a white male, as a citizen of the south, or as a person that hates either police or people of color. I don’t want to start this off on the wrong foot.
I AM a white male, who happens to live in the south.
I DO respect the police and think they have an incredibly hard job to do in today’s climate.
I DO think that it is true that black people are more likely to get shot today, than they were three years ago for the same thing. But I also think that part of the blame lies at the feet of the black community for not standing up and putting a stop themselves to the BLM nonsense themselves. All lives matter. Period. End of story. Your life is worth no more or less than mine, the guy’s next door, or the woman I’ve never met that lives somewhere I’ll never visit. If you want to stop racism in America, stop putting other words in front of “Lives Matter” and trying to relegate your particular color, gender, or sexual preference, religious preference, or heritage above others. Lives simply matter. Remember that yourself and act accordingly in life and things tend to go smoother for everyone involved.
Let me clarify: Did Philandro Castile deserve to die for what he did? No.
Did he do the ONE SINGLE THING HE SHOULDN’T HAVE? The ONLY THING that could possibly have put his live in incredible jeopardy? YES!
He did the one thing we teach our students to never ever ever do. We preach it again and again and again. It will get you killed! You don’t EVER do it.
He reached behind his back while uttering “I’ve got a firearm.”
Now wait five seconds and read on before you mark me as a stupid redneck and move on, because this is what my first firearms instructor so aptly coined “a teachable moment.” A teachable moment is that moment when someone does something they shouldn’t do, should never have done, and others can either learn from it or they can ignore it and it can happen to them.
In this case, a man has died to prove a point that everyone should already know, so the least we can do as people is try to be sure someone somewhere learns something from it.
I actually can’t believe I’ve not seen this mentioned before in today’s news cycle, but I’ll shed the light on it from my perspective – a perspective gathered from informed sources IN law enforcement on HOW TO HANDLE LAW ENFORCEMENT WHEN YOU HAVE A GUN. This is gun safety 101. It’s literally written in the concealed carry handbook in probably every state, in bold print. So if Philandro had a concealed carry permit, which I think according to reports, he did.. then he knew better than to do what he did. I make my students say it out loud in class. I ask it over a dozen times every class. It needs to be coined the Philandro Castile Doctrine, not out of jest or humor, but because a man died that didn’t need to because of it.
How to Not Get Shot by Police…
If a police officer approaches you in the line of duty, and a traffic stop certainly counts as official duty, and you have a firearm on you. You do the following every single time and you don’t deviate from it.
- Have the window down or cracked by the time he approaches your driver-side door, so you can both communicate clearly. If it’s night time, have the interior light on in your vehicle.
- Put your hands on the steering wheel, or the side of your driver’s door. (Many police are already trained that this is the pose a responsible shooter will adopt,so it puts you on a good footing before you even speak to the officer.)
- The VERY FIRST WORDS THAT COME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH ARE: “Good morning/afternoon/evening officer. I have a concealed carry permit and I have my firearm on me. How would you like me to proceed?”
- Your hands DON’T MOVE until he tells to move them. They don’t reach up to scratch your nose if you’re being attacked by a swarm of killer bees about the head and face. They stay planted to that steering wheel like you’re holding on for your life until that officer tells you what to do with them.
Interlude 1: Some of you out there are common-sense types. Others are what I like to call 4th amendment jockeys. Those are the ones that want to get all high and mighty about the right not to be searched without probable cause, blah blah blah. Shut the hell up and let the common sense people comment below. Don’t try to jump up on your 4th amendment high-horse and run all over the place spouting off your dribble. That police officer has ONE thing on his mind the moment you say “I’ve got a firearm.” The ONLY thought in his head is that he doesn’t want to die here on this traffic stop and he wants to see his wife and kids again, her husband again, whatever the person or thing they love most. They think “I don’t want to die” every time someone in a vehicle says they have a gun. And why wouldn’t they? They’re being targeted in their cars, in the streets, just like every other demographic is right now. So try to remember for one second that the police officer you’re talking to is about to be just as scared and nervous as you are. The difference is, he has a job to do and he or she has to get through it in order to get home tonight.
Was Castile’s death his own fault? No.
Was his death related to a serious mistake he made? Absolutely. He didn’t deserve for one second to die, not at all, but he WAS the instrument of his own demise. That much is painfully, brutally true and I wont’ apologize for saying it out loud, because it IS a fact. His actions got him shot.
When you tell a police officer you have a weapon on you, you become a block of ice. You don’t move. You stay the hell still until that officer decides what he’s going to do with you. Maybe he’ll ask you to step out of the vehicle, depending on whether or not your seatbelt is already unfastened. (If it’s not, you’d have to reach your hand over to the area he/she can’t see, so that might be a deciding factor.) He might call for backup and stand at your door until they arrive so he can get a second, or third, set of eyes inside your vehicle, especially if its night or if there’s more than one of you in the vehicle. He might ask you where your ID is before deciding how to proceed. The point is, you don’t know until he tells you. You don’t EVER reach anywhere after the words “I’ve got a firearm” come out of your mouth. From that point on, you act like a marionette and let them pull all the strings.
I’m merely speaking from my own point of view here, but I feel like what happened in that officer’s mind was that his suspect said “I’ve got a gun” and his eyes saw the suspect move his hands to his lower right side, out of the officer’s view, which is exactly where a right-handed man puts his pistol. Yes, it’s also the place a right-handed man puts his wallet, but the cop just heard “Gun” one half second before and then you move to reach behind you? That CAN and WILL get you killed. We drill this into students ALL THE TIME. You don’t ever reach anywhere until he tells you to. Ever!
Sure, Philandro was only going for his wallet.
Nope… “he’s going for a gun” was what his body language telegraphed.
“He was only reaching in the center console for a tic-tac.” Nope. He was going for a gun.
“He was opening the glove box to…” Nope.. he was going for a gun.
Funny thing that not all us civilians know: If we assume this was a routine police stop, then we can assume at some point in the process the officer ran Castile’s license plate. I’m also assuming Castile was driving his own car. If he was, then the cop already KNEW he had a concealed carry firearm. There are three things at the top of an officer’s screen (at least in the states down here in the south I’ve had the opportunity to ask officers about.) They are the full name of registered owner of the vehicle, the felony warrant status of the owner of the vehicle, and the concealed carry permit status of the owner of the vehicle. If a cop pulls you over and you’re driving a vehicle owned by someone with a permit registered to them (notice I said a permit, not a gun), then you can assume safely that the officer already thinks you have a gun until the moment they can prove for themselves you don’t.
There is a reason the police officer you’re facing outside that car window is wearing 20 pounds of Type-III body armor and a trauma plate in July heat and it’s not because it’s fun or he feels especially bad-ass in it. It’s because he’s in a job where people try to kill people like him daily. Hell, just 24 hours later someone DID open up with a scoped rifle and pick off 5 Dallas cops from a parking garage, and wound 7 more, not to mention shooting a mother in the back as she huddled protectively over her kids. That is what this man or woman thinks about every time someone rolls down a window. Every police officer in every town in America the next month is going to be adding one more threat vector to scan every time they go to exit their vehicle. Who is around my cruiser? Do I see any threats? Is anyone looking at me suspiciously? Are there any multi-story parking garages with line of sight to my windshield?
Sounds like a soldier in some movie you saw about combat in Afghanistan doesn’t it? That’s because that’s what their life is becoming like. And they’re psychologically reacting the same way a s traumatized soldier does that has been shot-at too many times. They get panicky, twitchy, and nervous. Wait and see. I can almost 100% guarantee you that in the next five years you’ll see a huge uptick in forced retirements from veteran police officers that are way too young to be leaving of their own volition. That’s because they’re going to be forcibly retired after being diagnosed with PTSD.
No, it shouldn’t be that way. It should NOT be that way in America. But it is. What should be and what IS, are two very different things. This SHOULD be Mayberry where everyone says “Hey officer Joe” and shakes a cop’s hand every time they see one. This SHOULD be a place where cops can go through streets without being in pairs everywhere they go. This SHOULD be a place where police don’t have to sit with their back against a wall in a diner and can instead eat a cheese-burger on their lunch hour in peace. But that’s not the reality we live in.
If you get stopped by a police officer, use an over-abundance of slow movements and common sense. No, you shouldn’t have to go through all those motions, but you need to. It’s not because you’re black. It’s not because you’re white, old, unemployed, or whatever else you think the reason is.
It’s because you’re about to tell this guy in body armor that you’ve got a gun and you’d prefer if BOTH if you made it home in one piece that evening.
Philandro Castile’s death was a tragedy. That police officer should not have shot him. But in terms of threat-of-death attack vectors, Mr Castile presented a tremendous threat to that officer when he said he had a firearm while reaching for his back pocket. It could have been prevented on BOTH sides. It CAN be prevented the next time.
Every Life Matters.