Officer is acquitted in shooting death of black driver whose girlfriend live streamed the aftermath

Criminal Justice



Updated: A Minnesota police officer has been acquitted in the shooting death last summer of a cafeteria supervisor, an incident that received widespread attention because victim Philando Castile’s girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath on Facebook. Shortly after the verdict was announced, the town of St. Anthony said Jeronimo Yanez is no longer employed there.

Yanez was acquitted on charges of second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a firearm, report the StarTribune, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Jurors had deliberated for 27 hours over five days.

St. Anthony, located northwest of St. Paul, said in a statement on its website that “the public will best be served” if Yanez is no longer employed by the police department there.

Yanez had testified he shot Castile after he pulled him over because he saw him reach for a gun, according to StarTribune coverage. “I thought I was going to die,” said Yanez, who had pulled Castile over on July 6 because of a broken brake light.

The 32-year-old Castile was black and Yanez, 29, is Mexican-American.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, said on the video that Castile had warned the officer that he was carrying a pistol and he was licensed to carry it. According to Reynolds, the officer shot Castile as he was trying to produce his driver’s license. On the video, the officer says, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out.”

A lawyer for Yanez, Earl Gray, had argued that his client believed Castile matched the description of a robbery suspect and he perceived an imminent threat when he fired his gun. Defense lawyers also said Yanez smelled marijuana in the car.

Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, addressed reporters after the verdict. “There has always been a systemic problem in the state of Minnesota, and me thinking, common sense that we would get justice,” she said. “But nevertheless the system continues to fail black people.”

Updated at 4:40 p.m. with Yanez’s employment status and additional details; updated at 4:51 p.m. to rework lead and move up information on Yanez’s employment status

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