After the police shooting death of Philando Castile, a Washington woman made it her mission to save Black lives during traffic stops.
“Someone has got to come up with a solution,” Jackie Carter remembered thinking to herself. She was home celebrating her son’s 30th birthday when she heard news that a 32-year-old Minnesota man had been fatally shot by police.
Castile, a school nutrition supervisor at an elementary school in St. Paul, was riding with his girlfriend when he was stopped by Officer Jeronimo Yanez because his “wide-set nose” made him bear a resemblance to a robbery suspect, the officer said on police radio at the time . Yanez asked to see the man’s credentials, but allegedly “feared for his life” after Castile told the cop that he was carrying a gun and reached for his wallet, which also contained a concealed carry permit.
The officer claimed he “had no choice” but to fire several shots into the car, killing the man inside. The tragic incident, streamed on Facebook Live just after Castile was shot, sent shock waves across the nation. Yanez would be charged with second-degree manslaughter but acquitted at trial in June 2017.
Carter told NBC News that, for her, the critical moment during the traffic stop was when Castile reached to grab his license. That’s when a lightbulb went on in her head, sparking her to create a small, see-through pouch for identification cards that can be attached to the driver’s-side vent.
With everything within arm’s reach, motorists would no longer have to rummage around for their license and registration.
Cue the birth of “Not Reaching!”
The brand’s website describes the device as the solution to fatal traffic stop incidents often experienced by young Black men and other minorities, and one that aims to de-escalate tense encounters with the police.
“Not Reaching! is a revolutionary identification system that allows drivers to remain stationary in their vehicles during a traffic stop by eliminating reaching for identification by the request of law enforcement,” the website explains, adding the device is “a start to a safe traffic stop.”
Since its launch three years ago, Not Reaching! has sold over 1,000 units, Carter told NBC BLK. She said she’s given the product away to just as many drivers in her community. The pouches sell for about $12 a pop, according to CBS 42.
The brand also offers pouches that alert officers to drivers who are hearing impaired, autistic, or licensed to carry a firearm.
“What the police officer sees is this,” said Carter, demonstrating how drivers typically reach down, or all around, their cars when they’re pulled over by police. “They don’t know what that is. So why have that as part of the whole incident? Why don’t you just have your hands where [the officer] can see them, and your information is right there.
Like most parents of Black children, Cater is fearful of her son being stopped by police
“I’m more fearful [for my son] in a car here than [when he’s serving] in Afghanistan,” she told the outlet. Now, she hopes her device will help prevent deadly traffic stops like Castile’s.
Castile’s mother, Valerie, supports Carter’s product and said the device may have helped save her son’s life.
“The murder of my son started with a police stop,” Valerie Castile said, adding how sad it was that a speacial device had to be created just to prevent another fatality.
“Who would think reaching for your wallet would be your demise?” she asked.
Watch more in the video below.