Verdict in the Philando Castile Case Spawns Protests
The acquittal of the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile in a July 2016 traffic stop outside of St. Paul provoked anger and frustration throughout the country.
From St. Paul to Chicago, activists had taken to the streets to express outrage over the jury's decision to vindicate Officer Jeronimo Yanez. St. Paul police reported last Friday that an estimated 1,500 marchers disrupted traffic during a gathering outside the Minnesota State Capitol building.
Facing a ten-year prison term, Officer Yanez was found not guilty of all charges, including second-degree manslaughter and two counts of improper discharge of a weapon.
His defense team built a case around the notion that Officer Yanez was afraid Mr. Castile, a licensed gun-owner, was grabbing for his firearm, which the information of its presence, the prosecution argued, had been previously conveyed to the officer.
Testifying that Mr. Castile disregarded his order to not pull the gun out, Officer Yanez fired seven shots into the vehicle, five of which hit Castile. The shooting prompted Mr. Castile to murmur, "I wasn't reaching for it," and expire shortly after.
The jury's not-guilty verdict spawned strong reactions from Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, and girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was present with their young daughter at the time of the shooting.
NEW: Philando Castile's mother reacts to not guilty verdict against police officer in the death of her son: "I'm mad as hell right now." pic.twitter.com/rWsq3XnhHt
— ABC News (@ABC) June 16, 2017
Live-streaming the incident seconds after Castile was shot, Ms. Reynolds' video spawned serious debates over excessive tactics inherent in police culture and the presumptions of guilt society attaches to young men of color. Although the verdict was welcomed by supporters of the Blue Lives Matter movement, city officials from St. Anthony, where Officer Yanez was employed as a policeman, offered Yanez a "voluntary separation agreement."
Officer Yanez: The shooting was ruled justified, when do I come back to work? City: Get lost. #PhilandoCastile https://t.co/NUqGo1pJZS — Blue Lives Matter (@bluelivesmtr) June 16, 2017