Life with Gracie: Judge Hatchett: ‘Philando should not be dead’

Credit: (Photo: Jim Mone / AP)

Credit: (Photo: Jim Mone / AP)

Most will agree that there are times when police are justified in pulling their weapons; that there are times even when deadly force is necessary.

Likewise, most of us will agree that the vast majority of police officers not only deserve our respect, they deserve our support.

“Philando should not be dead,” she said.

Hatchett, host of the nationally syndicated television show “Judge Hatchett,” served eight years as chief judge of the Juvenile Court of Fulton County in Atlanta.

On Tuesday, at a news conference on the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol, she announced plans to represent Castile’s family.

“I am deeply concerned about what seems to be an epidemic of African-American men being killed by police,” Hatchett said.

Castile, 32, was shot to death last week during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn.

His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, recorded his final moments and the aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook. His death, along with Alton Sterling's in Baton Rouge, La., sparked protests across the nation, including here in Atlanta.

"That kind of absolute violence is horrible on either side," she said. "This is not about police bashing. This is about our humanity or what's left of it."

Hatchett said that she has been encouraged by the very diverse show of support by protesters.

“Seventy percent of the demonstrators have been white citizens in Minnesota,” she said. “That’s an indication that people see this as a human issue and that blacks have been more negatively affected than others.”

They want less rhetoric and more action, including changes in how police are trained to do their jobs.

Specifically, Hatchett said the family wants a thorough audit of police processes. What happens when they stop someone? How are they trained?

“We ought to be looking critically at how this is happening in this country over and over again and move from rhetoric to what we need to do to get a different outcome,” Hatchett said. “We really hope to raise the conversation beyond Falcon Heights to every police department in this nation.”

Hatchett said she will be reaching out to both the Ramsey County district attorney and prosecutor to make sure charges are brought against the police officer who killed Castile, Jeronimo Yanez.

Yanez is on administrative leave. His attorney has said the shooting had to do with Castile’s gun. Not his race.

Yanez’s attorney Thomas Kelly was in court Tuesday morning and could not be reached for comment on the day of the news conference. On Thursday, a representative at his office said the attorney would not be taking calls from the media.

The question then, Hatchett said, is why stop him in the first place. Not only did Castile have a license to carry, he had never been convicted of a felony.

“Why was it necessary to pull him over and then shoot him when he was responding to a direct order to show his registration?” Hatchett asked.

While the vast majority of officers involved in these type shootings have not been indicted, Hatchett said this time has to be different.

On Monday, she toured the Cathedral of St. Paul, where friends and family of Philando Castile will celebrate his short life at noon Thursday.

“I have been so impressed with the strength of this family and the composure and determination of Ms. Castile that this is not just about justice for her son, but that this be a catalyst for real change,” Hatchett said. “This is not something that will happen immediately, but we must work diligently to change the narrative.”