Jury selection begins today in the trial of police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who is accused of second degree manslaughter in the death of a 32-year-old African-American cafeteria supervisor named Philando Castile. Yanez shot Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota last July. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed video of the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. According to prosecutors, Castile had a gun in his pocket that he was licensed to carry. They say when he told Yanez about the gun before trying to pull out his driver's license Yanez warned Castile three times not to remove the gun, to which Castile repeatedly responded that he was not going for his weapon,. Prosecutors say when Castile reached for his license, Yanez shot him.
The start of this trial comes on the heels of an acquittal earlier this month in the trial of another officer, Betty Jo Shelby in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was found not guilty in the death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black motorist whose shooting was captured on a video taken by police in a helicopter. In both of these cases, the encounters between these motorists and police lasted a very short time, but the ramifications of the legal decisions in these and other cases will last for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been advocating for more federal involvement in local law enforcement, mandatory minimum sentences and other crime fighting approaches that many criminologists have identified as racially biased, outdated and ineffective.
Today on Midday, a look at the relationship between police and communities of color, the criminal justice system, and the state of activism with groups like Black Lives Matter, and the NAACP, which is undergoing a leadership transition. Tom is joined by Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery, who covers law enforcement, justice, race and politics. His latest book is They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore and A New Era in America‘s Racial Justice Movement.