President Donald Trump and the NRA (National Rifle Association) have maintained their silence over the shooting of Philando Castile for nearly a year, and that silence has become even more glaring after the Minnesota police officer who shot the 32-year-old black man was acquitted on Friday last week.
U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond talked to TMZ on Capitol Hill on Thursday, and when asked to share his thoughts about Trump and the NRA in regards to the shooting, the congressman said that they should have spoken out and defended Castile’s right to bear arms.
On Wednesday, the dashcam video of the Philando Castile shooting was released, leaving little doubt that Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Castile seven times without provocation. The footage clearly picks up Castile telling the officer “I do have a firearm on me.” Yanez can be heard telling Castile not to reach for it, to which Castile replies: “I’m not pulling it out.”
The police officer then grabs Castile with his left arm, screaming frantically, then pulls out his weapon with his right hand. And in one quick motion, he shoots seven bullets into the interior of the vehicle, killing Philando Castile. In the video, Castile can be heard screaming as he died, while the officer can be heard yelling “f*ck” repeatedly.
Prosecutors argued that Philando Castile was merely reaching for his wallet so he could hand over his driver’s license — as Yanez instructed him to do before the shooting occurred.
Immediately after the incident, Castile’s fiancée Diamond Reynolds went on Facebook Live to stream the moments after the shooting. The video went viral across the U.S.
Jeromino Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges by a Minnesota jury on Friday.
In the transcript, the officer says he caught a whiff of marijuana inside Castile’s car when he pulled him over, explaining that it made him arrive at the assumption that the 32-year-old black man was carrying a gun.
“Being that the … inside of the vehicle smelled like marijuana… I didn’t know if he was keeping it on him for protection, for, from a, a drug dealer or anything like that or any other people trying to [steal from] him.”
The NRA, who have always been quick in defending most gun owners who get into legal trouble for practicing the Second Amendment, has remained noticeably silent over Philando Castile’s shooting, even after the dashcam footage of the incident went its rounds on the internet, as confirmed by the Washington Post.
Phillip Smith, a leader of the National African American Gun Association, slammed the NRA for not speaking out about the shooting, even more so that it’s been proven that Philando Castile was a licensed gun owner.
“And I’ve been reading pretty diligently,” he said. “It troubles me tremendously when I see a young man following the rules, doing what he’s supposed to be doing, and there’s still no accountability from a legal perspective.”
[Featured Image by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images]