On its face, there doesn’t appear to be any connection between the bill Cosby sexual assault case and that of former Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who shot and killed Philando Castile on July 6, 2016; but if we look at the two cases together, we see a disturbing pattern within the criminal legal system.
On June 16, 2017, Jeronimo Yanez, Minnesota police officer, was acquitted of shooting and killing Philando Castile during a “routine” traffic stop – note that Castile had been stopped over forty times driving while Black!
On June 17, 2017, after the jury was “hopelessly deadlocked” in the bill Cosby sexual assault trial, the judge declared a mistrial.
Yanez, 28, while awaiting trial, was out on his own “recognizance” – translated, he did not have to post bail for a manslaughter case, the killing of Philando Castile, a Black male.
When #BlackLivesMatter activists make the case against law enforcement in killing mostly unarmed Black males, this, not imposing any bail on Yanez, once again proves a point in terms of the disparate treatment of law enforcement officials accused of killing people and any other civilian – there’s probably no recorded case of anyone outside of law enforcement being released on his or her own recognizance for the “unlawful taking of human life.”
On the other hand, Bill Cosby, while awaiting trial for a decades old sexual assault case, at 79, was out on $1 million bail, for the sexual assault of Andrea Constand, a multiracial female from Canada. (Bill Cosby had many other accusers, but the statute of limitations to file charges against him had expired, and then again, what’s the point in mentioning these “cases,” but to imply that Bill Cosby is a “serial sexual assaulter,” to disparage Cosby even more?)
In imposing a $1 million bail, we must ask why. The case was more than a decade old, Cosby, famous, was not a flight risk, and on his next birth, less than a month away, would be 80. Cosby, a millionaire, could make such a bail, but that is not the point. The Constitution requires “reasonable bail,” and given the totality of the circumstances of the case, clearly, I think, a $1 million-dollar bail violated the spirt and letter of the Constitution. Note that former Judge Bruce Wright, was called “cut ‘em loose Bruce” by the tabloids because he followed the Constitution as it pertained to bail and gave bail based on the crime and other factors such as ability to pay.
There is history in the U.S. where law enforcement officials literally get away with killing unarmed Black males. There’s case after case after case, and often no charges are even filed against cops when they kill unarmed people. Note that in Minnesota there were about 200 cases that never resulted in an arrest and indictment of law enforcement for killing a civilian.
There is also history in the U.S. where Black males accused of sexual offenses, especially against white females, is dealt with in the most severe manner, both outside (lynch and castration mobs) and inside (sentenced to death) the courtroom. In fact, in 1963, 17 states, almost all of them in the Southern and Western United States, the District of Columbia, and the Federal government, authorized the death penalty for the rape of an adult woman. By 1977, only one state, Georgia, continued such a practice, until the United States Supreme Court, in Coker v. Georgia, ruled that such, imposition of the death penalty for the rape of an adult woman, was grossly disproportionate and excessive punishment forbidden by the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and struck down that state’s law.
The prosecution in the Bill Cosby case stated that he will retry Cosby. Jeronimo Yanez walked away from a possible prison sentence for manslaughter. He was fired by the police department for which he worked.
Until we as a society, and the judicial system look seriously at the “unlawful taking of human [Black] life,” especially by law enforcement, and prosecute such crimes to the fullest extent of the law, more and more people will lose faith in a system that has proven repeatedly that there is not “justice for all.”