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APNewsBreak: Cop's lawyer blames driver's gun, not his race

16 July 2016
APNewsBreak: Cop's lawyer blames driver's gun, not his race

A black Army veteran upset about fatal police shootings of black men and bent on exterminating white police officers killed five lawmen in a sniper attack that layered new anxiety onto a nation already divided about guns and how police treat African-Americans.

Minneapolis attorney Thomas Kelly, who is representing Yanez, told The Associated Press that Yanez was reacting to "the presence of that gun and the display of that gun" when he opened fire on Philando Castile. She describes being pulled over for a "busted tail light" as an officer with the St. Anthony Police Department, which polices Falcon Heights, points a gun into the auto and speaks with her, saying, "I told him not to reach for it".

Kelly went on to say that the officer, who was placed on administrative leave after the event, is distraught and saddened.

Authorities in St. Paul had reported just a single arrest of someone who had been in a crowd that at one point numbered 1,500 people, there to demand justice in the death of 32-year-old school cafeteria supervisor Philando Castile during a suburban traffic stop. She said that Yanez shot Castile after he reached for his identification.

Since the shootings in Dallas a number of protests have been held condemning police violence against civilians, especially people of color, and condemning violence against police. After being stopped by Yanez, Castile disclosed that he had a registered firearm for which he had a permit. Sterling, who was also black, was shot after a scuffle with officers outside a convenience store.

Police say Sterling was armed and a witness said he had a gun in his pocket.

"You shot four bullets into him, sir".

In Louisiana, meanwhile, prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson was among several people who were arrested Saturday night during protests in Baton Rouge.

Rawlings echoed Obama's message that black lives matter - and so do "blue" lives, those of police officers.

State investigators identified the two officers as Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser.

The prosecutor said the shooting highlighted the need for better interactions between police and black residents. Protesters pelted police in riot gear with rocks, bottles, firecrackers and other objects, and they refused to get off the highway, prompting officers in riot gear to move in just after midnight.

Police found bomb-making materials and a weapons cache at the home of 25-year-old Micah Johnson, a Dallas area resident who gunned down the officers before dying in a standoff with police.

For good reasons, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said Thursday he didn't think a white driver would have been shot by the police in a similar situation. Most importantly, both incidents sparked rage because many say the videos suggest the officers were not in any real danger.

"Would this have happened if those passengers - the driver and the passengers - were white?" he said Thursday.

The officers' races are not known.

The first gun-control laws were passed to keep weapons out of the hands of black slaves and freedmen in colonial days, said Nicholas J. Johnson, a Fordham University law professor and author of "Negroes and TheGun: The Black Tradition of Arms".

Quinyetta McMillon, the mother of Sterling, said in an interview Friday that the federal investigation is a "very positive step".