What Can We Learn from the Castile Shooting?

Last year, at the beginning of a series of tragic shootings and senseless violence against police officers around the country, a police officer in Minnesota shot a legally armed man. That man was Philando Castile and I think that there are some things we can learn from the Castile shooting.

If the aftermath of last summers breakdown of relations between portions of our society an the police, one thing we did here at PDN was to put together a distance education course on Interacting with Law Enforcement While Armed. I have been carrying a gun for almost three decades now and I’ve spent the majority of that time as a reserve or full time police officer as well. I travel the country almost constantly since 2008 and have had many interactions with officer while armed. I’ve also had a few interactions with both legally and illegally armed people while in uniform. I have provided thousands of hours of training to both Law Enforcement Officers and Concealed Carriers of Defensive Firearms. I think I have a pretty good understanding of the challenges from both sides. So, what do I think we can learn from the Castile Shooting? First, we have to establish which “we” I am talking about: The Police Officer:
Police Officer Training needs to evolve and get caught up with the growth of Concealed Carry across our country. Nowhere during my 600+ hr Police Academy or in my times in Field Training Status with various agencies was there a specific block of instruction on dealing with a legally armed people. The fact is that before the mid-1990’s there just weren’t that many people carrying concealed. For most of the era of modern policing in this country, chances were very high that if a police officer came into contact with someone carrying a gun, they were violating at least one law and probably a downright “criminal” person. Keep in mind that in the mid-1980’s there were almost 16 states that had No Provision for Legal Carry (including Texas and Alaska!) and 25 more only had may issue provisions, some of which (including NJ, CA and NV) were very restrictive. The training I received at the Academy in the 1990s was informed by the experience of officers who rarely came across someone who was what we would today consider the “typical CCWer”; a law abiding, pro-police, pro-rule-of-law, patriotic Citizen.

Things really started to change in the mid-1990s and today, there is a provision for carry in every single State, most of the States operate under a Shall Issue law where you can get a carry permit without any special justification as long as you are not prohibited (ie- rightfully infringed) for legal or mental health reasons and over a dozen States offer unrestricted carry rights that don’t even require a permit! The landscape has certainly changed.

Which brings us back to the Castile Shooting. In today’s America, police officers cannot afford to jump to the conclusion that anyone carrying a gun is up to no good. There are now millions of legally armed, trained, responsible ‘Merica-Loving citizens out there. Cops are going to come into contact with them more and more often on traffic stops, routine investigations, while taking reports of crime, while rendering aid to motorists or responding to traffic accidents, returning lost children or just passing by them on the street while they are legally openly carrying firearms. While many agencies and officers have been proactive, I believe that law enforcement training as a whole has fallen behind in this area. We need to educate our police officers (new and old) and the responsibly armed citizen, how two interact with them and remind them not to be afraid of someone just because they are carrying a gun.
My questions in the immediate aftermath of the Castile Shooting revealed around the officer’s behavior and what his typical behavior was on a criminal investigation traffic stop. For those of you not familiar with the incident, you can learn more about it and see the dash video HERE, the car was stopped because the officer suspected that the driver might have been a suspect in a crime. The articulated reason for the stop was a non-operational brake light. That is standard police work and there is nothing particularly wrong or nefarious with it. But, at this point, now that I have watched the Dash Camera Video, things start to get less normal. First, the officers at the car don’t seem particularly on edge, worried or nervous when the interaction starts. In fact, the officer who will eventually shoot and kill Castile seems very relaxed and is downright friendly. He is not in an aggressive posture and his hand can clearly be seen resting on his thigh as he squats down to make eye contact with the driver as he asks for his license and registration. The Cover Officer can be seen standing in a very relaxed posture as well, with his hands no where near any of his defensive tools during the early interaction. As soon as Philando Castile tells the officer he is carrying a firearm (something that I suggest legally armed people do), the officers posture, attitude, voice and hand position change. He immediately reaches for his gun, indicating to me that he felt threatened. It is possible that he felt threatened because of an action Castile took, but that is not what I believe happened. I believe he over-reacted to the idea that there was a gun in the car, dramatically escalated his own response and set in motion a series of actions that played out very very quickly and resulted in Castile’s Death. None of this is to say that Castile didn’t actually (and tragically) reach for his gun and make a move that anyone might have interpreted as threatening. We don’t have a camera showing that angle and we will never actually know.
I believe that if the officer had established better control over the situation when he first approach the car, particularly since the stop was a criminal investigation and not the proverbial “routine traffic stop”, things probably would’ve have played out very differently. Perhaps Castile was just waiting for his chance to shoot a cop? If the officer had positioned himself differently and attempted to establish more control with his verbal commands from the beginning, it would probably be very clear to us right now if Castile had tried to shoot him. If the officer had established better control from the beginning, perhaps Castile would’ve been told to keep his hands on the steering and might not have made a movement that got him shot. Monday Morning Quarterbacking? Yes… that’s how we learn. Put the emotional response aside. Forget the “you weren’t there how do you know?” knee-jerk reaction and figure out what we can learn from this event. No cop wants to shoot someone they don’t need to. Most cops don’t want to shoot anyone. Most cops take their training and tactics and performance to avoid having to shoot anyone very seriously. There are things we can learn from, or at least be reminded of by, the Castile Shooting.

The Concealed Carrier:
I’ve written and taught about the topic of Interacting with Law Enforcement While Armed much more from and for the perspective of the Armed Citizen over the years. After all, educating people interested in defending themselves and those they care about is the mission of Personal Defense Network. At the beginning of this article, I mentioned the distance education class we developed, which has been incredibly well received and appreciated by students. A great review of that course was post HERE several months ago. We also did a PDN Live on the topic back in March at the start of this year’s Training Tour. Here’s a quick summary of the advice I offer:

1. Always calmly let the officer know that you are legally armed with a gun or any other defensive tool. Tell them, don’t show them.
Regardless of whether or not it is required by law, this is always a good idea.

2. Keep you hands visible,and don’t make any sudden movements.

3. Keep you hands open when possible and away from the part of your body where any defensive tool is concealed.

4. Remember that the officer you are talking to may not be the only officer watching you, there may another officer observing from a different angle that can see things as well.

5. Keep your ID and CCW Permit on your body at a spot where there are no defensive tools so that accessing them can be done without simultaneously reaching towards something the officer could consider threatening.

6. Lower tinted windows, turn your interior light on at night and place your hands (with fingers splayed open) on the steering wheel when an officer approaches your vehicle.

These are simple steps you can take to keep things from escalating out of control. To prevent the officer from thinking you are threat. To prevent the officer from seeing your gun before you have told him and making him or her think that you were hiding it so you could hurt them with it. While it may not seem fair and it may not be right, you have to accept that you are the one on the defensive when you are approached by a police officer. You owe it to yourself to let them take control of the situation and get through it with as little anxiety as possible. If you truly feel that you are being treated unfairly, it is far better to to let the situation play out and deal with the aftermath in a supervisor’s officer or even in a court of law than it is to get shot. Many people talk about complying with the police… I prefer the term “cooperate”. We’re all on the same team. I don’t know anyone who wants to get shot by a cop, or anyone else for that matter. Most people who carry a gun for defensive purposes take their training and tactics and behavior to avoid having to shoot anyone very seriously. There are things we can learn from, or at least be reminded of by, the Castile Shooting. -RJP
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66 Responses to “What Can We Learn from the Castile Shooting?”

  1. Michael Fischer
    Michael Fischer

    I agree with your assessment of that tragic situation. After watching the video on the news I felt that it was not a clean shoot and that the officer overreacted. I’m glad to know that all the tips you offer I am alreadt following. Minus the “officer I’m armed” since I have not been stopped while carrying, subsequent to obtaining my CCW.

  2. Brian

    Always give deference to the LEO in situations like this, but that was a bad shoot.. the officer totally escalated that situation, over reacted and panicked. think the jury got this one wrong… LEOs cannot just feel threatened and be allowed to take a life.. there has to be a concrete action to justify that threat… In what I have seen from the videos released to date, such an event likely did not occur…

    • Joe

      I support and have the ultimate respect for LEO, but after watching the video I would have to agree. He had a backup partner on the other side, there were kids in the vehicle. This doesn’t appear to be someone looking to kill anyone, especially one whom is carrying a ccw. LEO should have just informed him to keep hand on steering and asked him where his ID is placed and possibly have him exit the vehicle if the ID was near or in the same vicinity of the firearm. Its a shame but this incident made me seriously aware as a CCW holder, I need to move my wallet away from my back pocket near my firearm as this could have been me.

    • Michael

      The person who escalated this was the Suspect, by pulling his weapon, if you waited for it to be pointed at you, you would be Dead..Apparently the Jury saw where the failure occurred, by the Suspect. You don’t get a second chance in a Gun Fight…

      • patrick

        He never pulled the weapon. That is the court transcript. The officer “thought” he was going for his documents that the officer had asked for. The weapon was nowhere near.

      • Darren

        Listen tonthe dashcam video the officer clearly says he doesn’t know where the gun is! Also you never see the officers “clear the gun”! So to me that says the gun was never in view!

    • Gary

      In a CRIMINAL trial, the standard is “beyond reasonable doubt”. Without body-cam video, the jury can not decide, “beyond reasonable doubt” that the trained officer did not see the victim move in a manner he was trained to recognize as ‘dangerous/life-threatening’. A CIVIL ($damages) trial, where the standard is “preponderance of evidence” may result in award of damages, IF state law does not preclude a ‘civil damages’ trial after the criminal trial reaches a “not guilty” verdict.

    • Manual Paleologos
      Manual Paleologos

      Brian, I tend to agree with you. The officer was in panic mode and there was his bizarre statement about second hand pot smoke. But since no one could see inside the car, we have to give some deference to the officer’s “Don’t reach for it” shouts.

      I think he got off on reasonable doubt.

  3. Chet

    I don’t agree that you should verbally tell an officer walking up to you “I gotta gun.” He may misinterpret that especially if you have a serious demeanor. In the few times I’ve been pulled over while carrying I always hand the officer my drivers license and my CCW. The officer now knows I’m a legal CCW. The officer usually asks if I have it on me. I say yes, and he typically responds to keep my hand away from it. I always keep both hand on the wheel where he can see them after handing my cards to him. In addition, before the officer even walks up to my window, I grab my wallet and take my DL and CCW out with my hands on the steering wheel. I feel this way is a lot better than waiting for the officer to walk up to the window and blurting out “I have a gun” and making him nervous before the interaction even begins.

  4. Dale

    The officer was calm at first and Castile responded as a CCW permit holder should do, by telling the officer that he was carrying a firearm.It was then that the officer panicked and blew things way out of proportion. He over reacted and escalated things far to quickly. This may have been due to lack of training for interaction with a CCW permit holder or just panicked. Either way,in my opinion, the officer caused a tragic death and traumatized the girlfriend and toddler in the car. The Police Department and the jury should have charged the officer with endangerment and unlawful shooting.

  5. Joel turner
    Joel turner

    For once in my life, I agree with someone on the left. The NRA should be all over this. Definitely not a justifiable shooting. If the guy says he’s got a CWP, then he’s more than likely not a felon? The fact he let the officer know this is an indicator he didn’t have bad intentions. The fix for this is simple. If you have a weapon in your vehicle, legal or not, when you are stopped, immediately stick a small activated magnetic red flasher above your window. This will allow LEO’s to handle your stop differently, from a distance. With the new carry laws changing, this is going to be a problem in the future. At first, I thought about a sticker, but that lets everyone know you have a weapon in your vehicle. In the old days, deadly force was used only as a last resort, now after 8 yrs of Obama and his hate for LE and love affair with thugs, there’s now wonder that Cops are on edge! This problem is not going away and needs to be addressed.

  6. Larry

    Actually he was illegally carrying seems how his girlfriend went on national tv admitting they had just smoked a joint making his permit invalid

    • Patrick

      So the shooting was justified then? Think of all the congressmen who have admitted smoking pot. Can we “smoke” them too. Any how the statement about the joint is actually fake news,

  7. Barrett Powell
    Barrett Powell

    Couldn’t agree with your article more. To those wanting to make this purely a racial thing…shame on them. I’m white and I have been stopped numerous times while conceal carrying. Most of the time the LEO is cool, but so am I. On a few occasions I was subjected to hostile treatment, once even being removed and disarmed at gunpoint at a routine license check.

    Training for all involved is what is needed, for the LEOs AND conceal carriers.

  8. Luis Guerra
    Luis Guerra

    This is what keeps me from legally carrying concealed all of the time. It’s the “What if syndrome”, and I totally agree that law enforcement has to catch up to the times with better training and the prevalence of concealed carry Now.

  9. A. X. Perez
    A. X. Perez

    I carry my driver’s license and HCL in ID carrier on lanyard around my neck. I Also keep my credit and debit cards and other ID in it, keep safe from pickpockets.

  10. ron

    I would say that dont’ just keep your hands away from where your weapon/tool is, but keep them away from your body at all. Keep them on the wheel. If they want to see your whatever credentials, inform the officer that you need to reach ______, ask if that is OK, then proceed slowly if they say yes.

  11. William

    1st. Arkansas requires a license for concealed carry and if you open carry the State Police say that you are breaking the law.
    2nd. AR law requires you to immediately notify an officer that you have a license and if you are carring or not

  12. Vic vapor
    Vic vapor

    dicey situation.

    As a mental health clinician,
    dialogue and communication must flow easily to keep a calm atmosphere.
    I am more inclined to emphasize keeping your hands in plain view and not volunteering information pertaining to weaponry unless asked by the officer.
    Try to have your license and registration already out and ready to present when requested…. Hands in plain up visible view.
    Anything beyond that is step by step as requested by the officer.
    Per 1000 stops, everything done right,
    someone could still get shot during these types of interactions… a sobering consequence of humans interacting under tense circumstances.

  13. Michael

    As a former LEO I began placing my vehicle insurance card, vehicle inspection report, copy of the registration document, and my attorney representative card in a clearly marked envelope attached to the top of my driver’s side windshield visor. So if stopped by police for any reason, I can respond to their request for that documentation without going into the glove box of the vehicle (a risky move at best). I always turn on the interior light of the vehicle (if at night), turn off my vehicle’s engine after slightly rolling down my window, turn off any radio or other entertainment device, position my iPhone in a pre-arranged spot with the video function operating. If possible I also have my wallet and drivers license out of my pocket, ready to give to the officer when asked. Fingers are of course at the 2 and 11 positions on the steering wheel with fingers apart. I am cooperative and friendly with officer, immediately advising them that I have a firearm. I then follow their instructions. Never have had any issues with any LEO period. Of course now in Texas we have open carry (if you have a handgun license), concealed carry, and we have always been able to carry long guns. We can legally carry a handgun in our vehicles if it is concealed – this does not require any license. Officers in this state should certainly be used to firearms in the hands of law abiding citizens in this state.

  14. Robert Sirmons (AKA: Preacher)
    Robert Sirmons (AKA: Preacher)

    I think your assessment is good also. I’m a CWP instructor here in South Carolina. I just completed a class yesterday and one of the hottest discussion points is interacting with law enforcement. We actually discussed the Castile shooting. We tried to determine where things went wrong so quickly. As you noted, there was no footage to show from all angles…..therefore one may seem to just guest/assume other facts/actions may have occurred. Just looking from the surface it appeared the officer just over reacted because Castile told him he was armed—–and as you noted, there is a mindset that still floats in law enforcement that if you are carrying a gun then you are on the other side of the law. Under our training guidelines we are required to let the student know when stopped by law enforcement they should: Keep both hands on the steering wheel, let the officer know in a non-threatening manner that you are a CWP holder and you armed, don’t make any sudden movements, don’t reach for any ID until the officer instructs you to do so, stay calm and don’t become confrontational, and follow the directions of the officer. One officer I know, and have discussed this matter with would, once faced with a legally armed person, ask the person where exactly was the firearm located……once officer would have the person exit the vehicle and then he (officer) would remove the firearm and place it on the dash board (when there was only the driver in the vehicle), request DL and request to see the firearm permit, and then continue with stop….once the stop was completed the driver would enter the vehicle, secure the firearm back on his person and proceed on. He said he has never had problem dealing with people legally carrying a firearm. Unfortunately, all officers are not that calm when confronted with a person legally carrying.

    To date, I have never been stopped while carrying my CWP and I hope I never will be. My fear is that it would be an officer that doesn’t have the temperament or calmness to handle the situation. Also, your tips are good and I will be providing them to my future classes.

  15. Benjamin

    You have your license and insurance? The proper answer would be, Yes sir. If the officer then asked where is it, say where it is. Then if asked to take it out and show it to the officer, do that. But don’t go beyond the question asked. Of course, the advise to already have your driving papers in your hand is best, so the officer can see exactly what you have and can look at it without danger to anyone. The driver in the video said “I’m not reaching” – but clearly he WAS reaching, and the officer had no way of knowing not for a gun. Even if the driver had said where the gun was (“He never told me where the gun was”, but then the officer didn’t ask that), he could have been lying, so again, keep you hands visible unless specifically asked to take out your wallet. Most officers I think feel safe if standing behind the driver during such movement, it would be very difficult to shoot someone behind the door pillar without warning.
    Then again, I saw the officer shoot the driver seven times. He was totally panicked, and even more so after shooting than before! The other officers had a real problem getting him away from the door so they could take the driver out for the resuscitation attempt. He didn’t want to shoot anyone, but was completely unsuccessful in preventing the driver from grabbing something out of sight, and apparently never though of just taking on step to the right to put himself behind the door pillar. This kind of traffic stop, with drivers doing various unexpected things, is something the police should practice with Simunitions or paintball guns or just saying “bang” and not knowing whether the “driver” is going to turn out good or bad.

  16. Jim Creek
    Jim Creek

    You are right. Cooperation, not complying. Both of you are US constitutional citizens. With the citizen having more of the power since the other one is NOT authorized by the Constitution.

  17. James May
    James May

    There are a lot of problems with this situation. The officer said he smelled marijuana. Thus when the guy said he was legally carrying that is unlikely to be true. You can’t buy a gun if you use marijuana. I don’t know the laws of his state but I suspect you can’t legally carry even with a permit after using marijuana. The cop told him not to reach for the gun repeatedly yet the guy apparently kept reaching around for something. At worst maybe the cop should have waited a split second or so longer but it is difficult to fault the cop when there was reason to believe he had been lied to about a “legal” gun and the guy kept reaching around. I think the jury was right not to convict. After seeing the video and the other evidence (Castile had THC in his system), I certainly wouldn’t feel justified in second guessing the cop.

  18. Frank Tipton
    Frank Tipton

    I’ve been in Law Enforcement, both on the street and as a training Officer, in the military and Sheriff’s Departments in two states from 1985 til my disability/retirement in 2012 and I have to say “Bad Shoot”. I agree that the LEO overreacted. I also think it was an accidental shoot due to the adrenaline surge. I believe he put his finger on the trigger too soon and the adrenaline caused him to pull the trigger and then continue firing until his rational “brain” caught up with his irrational act. Afterwards I think he tried to justify/rationalize it by retelling with embellishment to make it seem a “Good Shoot”. I’ve seen it before, sort of like a soldiers first firefight. Overreact, Underreact or Freeze. Any one of these will get you and your buddies killed. I have not seen a transcript of the trial, but I would like to. I want to know what kind of spin was put on to cause a jury to vote that way.

    • Dave

      I read that the jury was asked, something to the effect of, did the prosecution show that he was not justified beyond a reasonable doubt?

      I see that both made mistakes. The mistakes of the officer directly caused Castile’s death, but his actions were precipitated by the mistakes of the gun owner, who, under the influence of drugs, should not have been carrying to begin with. I also question his legal right to a CC license/permit and purchase of a handgun, since both require that one does not use marijuana.

  19. Igor

    I had similar training when I was in the AF at Vandenberg AFB waaaaaay back in ’76! You were told to stick BOTH hands out the window with fingers splayed, but in today’s hyperactive environment that may get you shot! So, Keep your (fingers splayed) hands on the wheel!

    However, I have an issue (per se) of what to do when stopped:
    1) Keep your hands on the wheel.
    TELL the officer what you plan to do if you have to move around, but…
    2) DO NOT MOVE until he tells you to go ahead. DO NOT MOVE until he/she says “Okay”, this is a verification that they heard and understood whet you plan to do.
    3) STOP MOVING after performing the action. Just stop, don’t assume (!) that they are relaxed yet.
    4) Don’t argue. They have the drop on you and are probably on a heightened sense of awareness!

    Being cool, calm, uncombative will result in a no-shoot situation. Not always, there’s always that Bully-with-a-badge syndrome, but they are rare. The cop just wants to do his job and go home after the shift is over with no problems, that’s all.

    P.S. “Don’t talk to the cops” is a good idea – see the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8z7NC5sgik
    (Part 1, watch BOTH parts!

  20. Gregg Zane Bates
    Gregg Zane Bates

    Rob in your professional opinion as a tenured LEO, is it not unusual to think that a person who may be “up to no good” would inform the officers that he is armed???

    • Dave

      There was a case in, I believe Georgia recently, where the officers were shot by someone that told them he was armed; so, yes it can and does happen.

  21. Peter Wehrmeyer
    Peter Wehrmeyer

    that officer dictated an action, and shot him while he was doing it. This, sir, was murder, straight up. No question.

  22. MacDaddy

    Great article, as usual – very tragic situation that should have gone differently, IMHO. I hope a lot if people learn from it, and not use it to fuel their emotions. One thing I learned in CCW class was to avoid saying the word “gun” to the officer, instead just hand over your CCW permit with your license. This is probably the least panic-inducing method to inform the officer you are carrying. In situations were you’re not asked for your license, tell the officer you are “legally carrying” or use the word “firearm” – always avoid using the word “gun”.

  23. Michael

    It is easy for Armchair “Experts” to criticize if you haven’t been there, the Suspect should NOT have pulled his weapon out, telling the Officer that he had a weapon was sufficient at that time. Let the Officer take charge of the situation. I also question that the Suspect , as a Ex-Felon, actually had a CCW Permit, as claimed by some. If you have a CCW, you been trained in the proper procedure when stopped by Police. What is needed is Suspects should be “Trained” in what NOT to do, but cooperate and follow simple Directions…

  24. David Douglass
    David Douglass

    Here are the facts you have not taken into consideration. One: The officer upon being informed by the driver of having a gun on him along with a permit to carry said, “Don’t reach for it” and the driver upon hearing the lawful order from the officer said, “Oh I don’t have to reach for it cause I have…” (can’t really hear the ending on the audio of that sentence but it was probably, “it right here” –as the driver does the exact opposite of the officer’s order and does indeed reach for it from somewhere downward (between legs or between seat and center console or whatever). We also see the officer upon hearing the driver say he didn’t have to reach for it cause it was close by, reach into the car saying “No don’t” but then…..back away and draws and fires several times while backing away.
    Now, the officer gets the benefit of all doubt here, because he made a double attempt to get the driver to comply and by the officer’s actions we KNOW the driver failed to comply and in fact did the opposite action.
    The blood THC level of the driver proved he was high as a kite, THUS……when hearing to “Not reach for it” was attempting to demonstrate to the officer that he didn’t have to reach for it cause it’s right here (reaching to show the officer where it was), which was a tragic mistake by a stoned driver who was so impaired mentally by the THC that he failed to understand reality …..grave reality. VERY TRAGIC, but this is what a stoned mind will do–fail to comprehend reality and the seriousness of a very serious situation.
    Yes, it’s that simple and this is exactly what the jury understood by the preponderance of the evidence and thus the officer—as he should be—was acquitted of any and all charges.

    • Patrick

      So the shooting was justified then? Think of all the congressmen who have admitted smoking pot. Can we “smoke” them too. Any how the statement about the joint is actually fake news,

    • Patrick

      Dont know where you get your “facts” from but they do not align with the official facts. In Wyoming the first thing they ask if the information is volunteered is “where is your weapon?” Then to leave it where it is. They may ask you to step out of the car if it is not on your person. They will ask where your documents are and if you say “in the glove box” they will ask you permission to remove them. Not an issue, great training is the answer

  25. Frank Webster Jr
    Frank Webster Jr

    My attorney told me to never volunteer concealed carry unless specifically asked

  26. Don Simpson
    Don Simpson

    I am an instructor and try to give the same message to those I interact with. I come at it from a little different perspective. Domestic abuse used to be the #1 incident that an officer felt could be a “threat”. Today, because of the quantity of drugs going up and down the roads, a traffic stop has become #1. So, if they are stopped, put themselves in the officer’s shoes, cooperate, put the officer in charge. I also have had 2 incidents, one being stopped for a stop sign violation and the other an accident (not my fault) and use them as a lesson, personal experience. Basically agree with you.

  27. Bob Peterson
    Bob Peterson

    Excellent article! Massad Ayoub has a good video on this exact topic. His teaching parallels yours with minor exception. He says, not to use the word gun for the exact reasons you said, it will change the dynamic threat level the wrong way. He says to provide Your CCW permit with your license and ask the officer how he/she wants to proceed. Great stuff! Thank you.

  28. Jerry Gossett
    Jerry Gossett

    If a person merely says “I’ve got a gun”, that could actually be interpreted as a threat. I suggest saying something like “Officer, I am legally carrying a gun but my hands are not near it. What may I do for you?”.

  29. Randy

    A close friend who served as a police chaplain for many years, and did many ride-alongs, always told me to put both hands out the window, not on the steering wheel, when approached by an officer. Due to his advice, I always remove my ID and CCW permit from my pocket before entering my vehicle. It’s accessible and ready to present. If stopped, both IDs and both hands go out the window before the officer approaches my window. At that point, it’s full cooperation with the officer.

  30. scott puckett
    scott puckett

    As a retired police officer with 30 years on the job, I can say that I completely agree with you. During my day as both a “student” and an instructor in police training classes, I don’t ever remember being involved in a class in dealing with legally armed citizens. I do know that there is a certain percentage of police officers, hopefully very low, that do not believe any citizen should be armed. This colors their actions. Also there are certain types of citizens who feel they have no duty to “comply” with an officers instructions. With either situation, bad things can occur. Thanks for these thoughts.

  31. Benjamin Kurtzer
    Benjamin Kurtzer

    I disagree with telling an officer that you are ” legally armed with a gun or any other defensive tool.” I think a better phrases is: “Officer, I have concealed carry permit.” The officer will then ask if you are armed and you can then answer yes or no, depending on whether you’re actually carrying.

  32. Brandon Lee
    Brandon Lee

    “Over-reaction” by a law enforcement officer led him to shoot a fellow CPL holder in his car while his girlfriend and daughter were less than five feet away. This is not an over-reaction this is rash stupidity, negligence and murder. Officer Jeronimo Yanez should be in jail. The author of this article then speculates about whether Castile was itching to kill a pig and this is a sick injustice (“Perhaps Castile was just waiting for his chance to shoot a cop? “). Do not criminalize the victim. Criminalize the pig who wasn’t “perhaps waiting for a chance to shoot a black man” but actually did commit murder in front of a woman and a child.

  33. Dick

    Based on my training your advice is spot on. I would add two thoughts. First, if possible avoid using the word “gun” or similar terms as you inform the officer that you are armed. A second officer may hear and react to the word “gun” without fully understanding the circumstances. Secondly, after you have informed the officer that you are armed and with your hands still on the wheel, ask the officer what he/she would like you to do next. This politely tells the officer that they are in charge and you are willing to take direction. It also is a good response to have recorded on a body cam if one is running.

  34. Karl

    I’ve read many reports from various experts, including this one from RP, and I’ve watched the dash cam footage a few times, and I believe the jury got it wrong. The officer overreacted, completely escalating the situation. Do we learn from it? We better. LEOs have a very difficult job, and they need more training, better support for anxiety and anger issues, PTSD, etc. It is most unfortunate that someone lost his life who didn’t have to, and that department and officer should be held accountable. Once the shorts were fired, it was too late in that situation, but let us make sure we learn from it for the sake of all of us.

  35. Carlos

    I’m with you all on the general opinion on what happened. The officer asked two possibly conflicting requests; asking him for his license and reg, but asking him not to reach for his weapon caused confusion, and both parties panicked in response to the lack of clarity instead of stopping to clarify.

    I’ve almost always presented the concealed permit along with my driver’s license and they ask me if I’m carrying and where the firearm is located. I let them know and ask them what they want me to do while keeping my hands visible to them and both times they’ve just said to do nothing; “just hang tight” is one response I can recall verbatim. They didn’t even want me to surrender the weapon, so there was no need for me to do anything else other than relax and keep doing what I was already doing.

  36. jack griffith
    jack griffith

    I disagree w/telling the LEO you are armed!!! In TX, we have to give the LEO our gun license (if we are carrying), if/when he asks for identification (d/l). I try to get my d/l, LTC, and insurance card out before he gets to the window. I hand him all three and wait for his reaction. about half the time, they hand my gun license back and say they don’t need that. sometimes they ask if I have a gun and where. I always answer politely. I think it is unwise to use the word GUN around LEO, they might over-react.

  37. Jacqueline

    This video is being shown to the public but there was another video taken by the victim’s girlfriend which clearly showed the inside of the car and it appeared that the officer asked Castile to get his license and registration, and Castile “told” him he had a gun.(obviously NOT what someone would do if they intended to hurt the officer). As Castile went to get his wallet the whole demeanor of the officer changed. His face was shown in full view and it appeared Frightened while Castile was calm and polite. Why is this tape not being
    shown and Why has the NRA not had anything to say? I am a licensed NRA instructor and from the angel of the first video that I saw it seemed to look like the officer panicked an shot an innocent man. The other officer on the scene does not seem panicked he would surely had a clearer view. Just because this officer was acquitted does not mean he did the right thing. How does a person shoot all those rounds into a car with a woman and baby in the car? Pure incompetence.

  38. David Clarke
    David Clarke

    Agree. Error on victims part as well as over-reaction by officer. Best advise I agree with and that is: all occupants to keep hands open and visible. Reach for nothing….I must say I agree with the verdict thou as we have not been afforded with the view the officer had. WAS the victim reaching for the gun? Will we ever know?

  39. Zane Zaminski
    Zane Zaminski

    Not to contradict the previous posts and or “Second guess” the officer, but I would call the shooting inconclusive; from the actual dashcam video, I find it impossible to tell what the driver was doing when the officer issued the commands of “Don’t reach for it.!!” I would like to hope that the bigger take away from this tragic shooting (Any shooting is tragic, with minimal exceptions such as a blatant troubled person armed to the teeth and shooting innocent people) is to identify first and foremost to the agency,(with hands on the steering wheel in plain sight) that 1) You have a permit and 2) You have your CCW on you and it’s (Identify the location-ie, 4 o clock right hip.). In my humble opinion, this should have been stated IMMEDIATELY when the officer approached the Driver. As a follow on, state very clearly to the officer that “I am not going to move or do anything without your instruction, first.” Maybe the officer will want you out of the car and have you remove your weapon. This is my opinion and I support this action as the ccw issuing body for mine, indicated that is what their agency would like done if you’re stopped. In any case, the video is just not conclusive to me, yet I agree with the analysis, because the officer seemed rather Non-chalant at first and then got pretty heated and the other officer seemed like he was day dreaming. Tragic shooting that was not necessary.

  40. Curry

    Your professional explanation is excellent. You have come down against the officer involved in the shooting. Now give us your explanation of what the jury saw and heard which you believe was a factor or “the” key factor in exonerating this officer in court. For example, did the defense make certain the jury was loaded with ccw carriers, or was it the other way around?

  41. steve g shockley
    steve g shockley

    this will happen more often I think.with probably the same legal results.politians prefer un-armed peasants

  42. Recce1

    First, the excuse of stopping someone for a malfunctioning taillight when it’s OK IS nefarious. Secondly, the driver was a suspect because he was black. Third, he was a clear and present danger because he was an armed black.

    Result, one MURDERED young man and one police officer who should be in the general population in prison.

    Lesson to be learned. If one is black and armed one is likely to be shot by a white police officer if stopped and anything is unusual. So play Sgt. Schultz and keep hands on sterring wheel even if asked to show ID. Have them ask you to get out of vehicle and have them search you, legal or not. Better that than dead.

    And yes, my Stqate REQUIRES one to tell a police officer is one is armed or even if one has a carry permit. If you fail to tell the officer you’re armed or have a permit and you’re arrested, tell the judge you feared for your life due to an officer with a nervous finger.

    • Dave

      Recce, please step down off your high horse and into the real world. Secondly, stopping someone for a malfunctioning tail light, etc., is common practice, and where I grew-up, police looked for any excuse to stop you because they wanted to get people for DWI. Secondly, the cop was a spic, not likely to be “scared of the black man”; thirdly, telling *anyone* “I have a gun”, is going to pucker their cheeks a bit. He should have told the officer that he was a CC holder/licensee/permittee, etc. He had no legal requirement to tell the officer he was armed. Even if he wanted to tell the officer he was armed, he should have done that after stating he was licensed/permitted. Carrying while under the influence of any drugs or alcohol is illegal. Lastly, one is not allowed to legally obtain a carry license, nor purchase a firearm, if one is a user of marijuana; so he was not legally carrying nor legally CC, nor legally allowed to purchase the handgun.

  43. Mary

    I was planning to put my hands on the steering wheel at 2 and 11 o’clock and say, “Officer I have a CCW permit; I am carrying today/tonight. I await your instructions.” Then he’d probably ask carrying what/where. I’d say carrying my handgun in my purse there on the seat beside me. My ID is in the purse too, but they’re not in the same compartment.” Then let him ask more probing questions, so he feels secure with my reaching for my wallet. Overhead light on, move slowly, only after he tells you to get out your ID. If he wants to secure the gun, I guess hand him the purse and tell him which zip compartment opens it to the butt of the gun. Also tell him you are not otherwise authorizing him to search your purse; assert you have no other weapons on you. I somewhat like the idea of putting ID in a separate pouch, but then I’d run the risk of spacing it off and leaving it in the car, not good. In fact, when going to the range I transfer all that to my range bag, then twice in the last year forgot to transfer it back to the purse, but the gun is in the purse and I go out like that! Haven’t been caught yet, but I decided just now the ID is staying in the purse always. There is also a problem with getting your wallet out of your purse as the police approach your car. I’ve read/heard after stopping immediately put your hands on the steering wheel and never let them get out of the police’s sight. It doesn’t seem like there is really any good foolproof solution. My CCW instructor, who was a former LEO said, “Don’t say ‘I’ve got a gun.'” But my state’s law does require one to inform the officer that you not only have the permit but also have a weapon on you. But the law doesn’t say you have to verbally inform. I wonder if just handing the CCW permit satisfies the duty to inform requirement? Also, what is the deal with spreading one’s fingers out–that makes them less of a potential weapon?

  44. Dennis

    This could have been avoided if the gentleman in the car had followed the officers instructions not to reach for it the gun right or wrong you should follow officers instructions,

  45. Jon

    All good advise but I would add this; after advising the officer that you have a CCW and you are presently carrying, let him know where your firearm and any other defensive tool is being carried is located and how would he like for you to proceed, all while keeping your hands on the wheel. I always hand them my DL with my CCW because as soon as they run your license they will see that you have a CCW. You catch alot more flies with honey and the officer will feel much safer and relaxed when he sees you are one of the GOOD GUYS.

    Thanks PDN for all your efforts!

  46. John

    This is an intense tragedy that gravely concerns me as a gun owner, and it’s difficult for me to interpret the shooting as anything less than manslaughter considering the totality of the circumstances that led to the officer electing to use lethal force. My strongest sympathies are with Mr. Castile’s family.

  47. Chiefton

    Nobody can honestly say if this was a good or bad shoot. I am a retired law enforcement officer and have seen situations that can get out of hand very quickly. We cannot see what the ccw holder was doing with his hands at the time he was shot and therefore any conclusion that we draw on the officer’s actions is purely subjective on what we believe happened and not based on facts. But I must say that I too have seen many flaws in the training of new officers. A trend started in the 80’s where young officers were training new officers instead of the requirement of a training officer having 10 years on the job. Bad habits started becoming a routine practice and progressed into some of the situations we are seeing today. Officers place themselves in tactical positions that could jeopardize their safety and rapidly lose control over their environment. Police Academies cannot cover all these situations in the time they have so it must be done in the department settings. Go back to the seasoned, street smart officers being the training officers an not the young aggressive officers who are themselves still tactically unsound.

  48. Patrick Duffy
    Patrick Duffy

    I just completed the Cheyenne WY Police Citizens Academy. This subject was covered in detail as we have lots of CCW holders in Wyoming as well as those who carry openly and of course no permit is required if you only carry in state. It is the last 2 that make the police nervous.
    One of the officers taking the classes said that in some states training is at a minimum and that many cops just dont know how to handle the situation. Also the comment was that there is still a huge prejudice in some areas where being black/latino with a gun is defaulted to “must be a criminal”.

  49. Leonard S.
    Leonard S.

    Thank-you. This is well-written and makes some great points. I agree that we cannot see the angle that would show what Philando Castile did right after informing the office that he was legally carrying a firearm, but I do think context helps. First, he informed the officer – the ultimate sign of respect. Next , he was accompanied by his girlfriend and a child. It makes less sense that he would endanger them after informing the officer.
    Lastly, I watched the support officer and he never seemed to take an aggressive posture so either he was at the wrong angle and could not see what Officer Yanez did, wasn’t paying attention, or didn’t see anything to be alarmed about. Again, thank-you for your article and platform to allow dialogue about this legally armed citizen being killed at the hands of police.

  50. Robert Torbett
    Robert Torbett

    I agree with Brian to a point. However I also agree with Chet. I have only been stopped a couple of times while carrying. I keep my billfold in my left back pocket and my pistol and knife are on the other side. I provided the officers with both my license and permit together. If asked if I am armed I tell them and have not been removed from my vehicle to show them my pistol. I think it’s a matter of your attitude and voice inflections when approached by an officer. I say this after having worked with various agencies over the country while working in communications. They vary from small local departments to DEA and US Marshal’s to name a few. I’ve gotten to know many fine officers over the years. My wife and I both volunteered with a Sheriff’s Department for a few years where we received quality training. From the video, I feel the officer involved should have been the back-up officer in a 2 man squad longer before being allowed to be the primary officer. He clearly panicked when presented with the condition leading up to the shooting. My only other question would be, What was the other officer doing at the time?

  51. Keith H
    Keith H

    I live barely two blocks from where Castile was shot. Officer Yanez has been known to this neighborhood for a long time. He would always stop and talk to the kids and they knew him by name. Your list of what to do if you are carrying a weapon should be required practice for ever carry permit issued. Castile was high so everything changes. Many people don’t realize Castile also had been issued over 60 citations in three years for traffic violations. He was used to reaching for his ID, but Officer Yanez didn’t know that. Castile was no law abiding citizen like his family portrayed on TV. He was in a car, windows up, smoking marijuana getting his young daughter high in the back seat. Officer Yanez has been victimized and demonized by the Castiles and the BLM crowd. Castile’s memorial is a travesty. The St Anthony Police acting as Falcon Heights Police have kept our streets safe for many years. We literally have no crime on the streets around here except where the police want to be seen by hundreds of people on the two busy streets alone. Everyone here knows if you have Anything wrong with your car or are operating it in an unlawful manner, You Will Get Stopped. Period! The only people being profiled here are those too stupid to obey very basic laws.


    First, I qualify my statement as Mr. Pincus does; We don’t know for sure exactly what happened and probably the officer doesn’t remember correctly either. However, too many officer involved shootings are covered by the non-specific axiom of “officer safety”. I thought the idea was to serve and protect. Being a cop has certain inherent dangers that should be obvious even to the uninitiated civilian. Cops are expected to go in harm’s way and to be reactionary to most actions. That sucks, but that’s the way it is. Mr. Pincus has rendered an excellent point that Police training is always about 10 years behind the times. As generals are always fighting the last war. Smaller departments are even worse as “budget restraints” are always cited as to why officers are not more intensively trained (ask me how I know). I will say, from experience, that many officers are just plain lazy when it comes to more training. Most, sadly, are satisfied with fulfilling the minimum requirements of their dept. and nothing more.
    Mr. Castile died needlessly and the system jumped to the defense of an officer in the wrong to save itself not the officer. Hegemony of Deadly Force must be maintained by the State (State, as in gov’t in general). The State and it’s minions, the police, are extremely jealous of the the power of life and death. As many people are aware the police generally have an “us vs them” mentality and approach to the citizenry. Sad and sorry scenarios like Mr. Castile’s death will be repeated in the future until all the “merika loving, law abiding” folks put their collective foot down on the toes of a aristocratic and arrogant gov’t and show them who is boss. Otherwise, what else is there? The 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting.