Philando Castile was shot and killed by St. Anthony Park police officer Jeronimo Yanez 74 seconds into a traffic stop on July 6, 2016. Officer Yanez was subsequently charged with second degree manslaughter with culpable negligence and two counts of intentional discharge of dangerous weapons which endangered safety of others. The others are the two other occupants of Castile’s car: his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four year-old daughter. Bullets shot from Yanez’s gun barely missed the little girl in the backseat.
This case gripped the nation in the hot summer of July ’16 because it came on the heels of several other officer-involved shootings and incidents where black men were killed. Freddie Gray. Alton Sterling. Walter Scott. Laquan McDonald. Michael Brown. Eric Garner. And Castile was pulled over, per the officer, because Yanez thought Castile’s “wide set nose” matched the description of a suspect from a robbery that had occurred a couple of days prior. The legal reason he gave as to why he pulled Castile over was because he had a tail light out. When Yanez approached the car, Castile calmly informed him he had a licensed firearm on his person, and what happened next is what 74 Seconds is all about: the minute and a half between which the traffic stop commenced and Castile was shot.
MPR News produces this show, which is still reporting on the case although Yanez’s trial wrapped up in June 2017. I won’t spoil the outcome for you if you aren’t familiar with the case or want to savor every moment as I did, but I will say that I am not surprised at all that MPR News excelled at producing this high-caliber program nearly on the fly, providing daily updates from the trial on the same or next day. Everything with American Public Media’s (the parent organization of MPR) name on it is impressive: crisp, thought-provoking reporting, top-notch journalists, and exquisite editing.
Episodes are short – often less than fifteen minutes long – but this is what allowed the team to report daily on the trial action. Unlike In the Dark, where by the time the podcast debuted, the team knew an outcome of their investigation (albeit unexpected), the 74 Seconds team was truly producing in real-time, so the first four episodes which set up the story had no end game in mind – the trial really could have gone either way. This allowed for a smart, factual, multi-faceted look at the people involved in the case (Yanez and Castile) and what was known at the time about the incident itself. If you already know the outcome of the trial, you may find these introductory episodes even more fascinating now.
I find it difficult to criticize anything about this podcast. The reporters did a tremendous job juggling real-time reporting and show production, they did an extensive amount of research into Yanez’s and Castile’s pasts, and they have continued to report every few days after the trial ended. They’ve interviewed a juror, a law enforcement trainer, and many other people connected to the case. I would love to hear directly from District Attorney John Choi and Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother.
The producers and reporters of 74 Seconds are asking all the right questions about this horrific incident: why was Castile pulled over so many times since the day he got his license? How common is it for this to happen? What training did Yanez have? What is the culture of the police department, and how is that likely to change? What is likely to change for drivers with CHL or CCW permits? Why didn’t the NRA raise holy hell about this case? There’s a lot to investigate and I hope 74 Seconds continues to tackle it all. This is a must-listen program.
What do you think of this podcast? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss! Also subscribe to my twice-monthly newsletter!
Audible Feast Ratings
Educational Value (5 / 5)
It was absolutely fascinating to learn about jury selection and the reasons why a juror cannot be dismissed, and how the judge plays a role in jury selection.
Pop Culture Value (5 / 5)
Host Listen-ability (5 / 5)
Riham Feshir and Jon Collins provide professional reporting and are not overly dramatic – which is likely difficult when the case is certainly capable of igniting rage. They keep their personal opinions out of the reporting for the most part which is great journalism.
Flow & Production Value (5 / 5)
Investigation (5 / 5)
Storytelling (5 / 5)
Makes Me a Better Person (5 / 5)
Overall Audible Feast Rating: (5 / 5)
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