As America is reeling and recovering from the death of Alton Sterling, who was just recently put to death by the trigger-happy hands of a different police officer in Louisiana, another by the name of Philando Castile was also murdered in Minnesota. Castile’s uncle, Clarence Castile, was the one who confirmed his death and portrayed his loss through the way-to-relateable quote, “My nephew is gone at the hands of the police.”
In a facebook live stream video, filmed by Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, we see her version of the altercation from her eyes, and it does not look promising for the police- although I’m not sure that I’m familiar with a police brutality case that ever really does look promising in terms of the police.
What we know so far is limited, and predominantly in the eyes of Castile’s girlfriend. So for now, we were told that the couple was stopped because of a broken taillight on their car. The police proceeded to ask Castile for his identification, and Castile had the decency to inform the police beforehand that he was licensed to carry a firearm. I imagine that this is where the alarm bells began to ring in the heads of our troubled officers. Even though Castile had the nerve to reveal that he was in possession of a legal firearm, a fair warning in the case that the officers spotted a gun, the officers still saw him as a threat, and I can’t believe that their apprehension was the effect of anything other than systematic racism. So, as Castile complied to the police’s orders and reached into his pocket, all the while informing the officers that he was merely reaching for his ID, as Reynolds also chimed in telling the officer’s not to worry, that her boyfriend was only trying to follow orders, Philando Castile was still shot in the arm, and later died.
If this doesn’t portray the black struggle in America, then I don’t know what does. We’re shot for disobeying orders, and now we’re shot for following orders too. In the video, we also hear the officer’ confusion. We hear him yell “I told him not to reach!”, and we hear him curse as he realizes that he may have just made the wrong decision. We get the being a police officer is tense and difficult and confusing. We get that if you feel threatened, you should act on your intuition, but this is not the way to go about it. Officer, he was just doing what you told him to do, what you tell everyone to do, and yet you still shot him dead. You shot him, and you made his girlfriend watch her partner die. You made her watch the father figure to her four-year-old leave this earth.
In the facebook live stream video, we hear the disbelief in Reynold’s voice. We hear her ask again and again if they really just shot her boyfriend if he really just died in a matter of seconds. I’m sure that she’d heard about police brutality in America. I’m sure she’d just turned on to the news and watched the tragic story of Alton Sterling unfold in her own home. But I don’t believe that she would have ever imagined that she or anyone close to her would have been subject to this vicious cycle of police brutality. And the sad part is, this should have never happened in the first place. Her boyfriend should have been able to safely comply orders without the officer suddenly feeling ‘intimidated’. The officer should have just believed that this man was following his orders and the couple should have been able to return home, shaken, but safe.
Instead, Lavish Reynolds was detained and taken to a jail cell at the crime scene. She was left to recover from the death of her boyfriend, from her world turning upside down in a jail cell. Not surrounded by her family, not in the comfort of her own home, but in a freaking jail cell. Tell me, officer, what Lavish Reynolds did to deserve this. Tell us why she was detained. Because in the past, we’ve seen what you can do in the confines of a jail cell. Sandra Bland is one of many that have not survived to tell us of the horrors that occur in jail cells. Please, officer, don’t hurt her, because we are only left to assume that the worst can and will happen.
And as for the rest of us, it seems to be open season for police officers so please stay safe. I know you’ve heard this from your mothers and grandmothers but the police system seems to be unraveling and we are its prey. So please if you are eye-to-eye with our friends in blue, comply with their orders and pray that this will be enough.