Officer Acquitted in Philando Castile’s Murder, Protests Erupt

Officer Jeronimo Yanez alleged in court that he feared for his life before shooting Castile five times.


(Reuters) — A protest on a Minnesota freeway over the acquittal of a police officer in the slaying of Black motorist Philando Castile resulted in the arrest of 18 demonstrators early on Saturday, state police said.

The arrests came hours after St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty on Friday of second-degree manslaughter in 32-year-old Castile’s July 2016 shooting death in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights.

The shooting drew national attention after the victim’s girlfriend live-streamed the bloody aftermath on social media, and it led to protests that have fueled debate across the country over police use of force in encounters with minorities.

Protesters held a peaceful demonstration on Friday at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul and then about 1,500 converged on Interstate 94 in the city, blocking the freeway, a Minnesota State Patrol spokeswoman said in an email statement.

Authorities repeatedly asked protesters to leave before making 18 arrests shortly after midnight on Saturday, the statement said. Unlawful assembly and other charges are pending against them, it said.

Among those listed as arrested for alleged unlawful assembly were at least two journalists.

Yanez, the son of a Mexican immigrant, testified during the trial in Ramsey County District Court that he feared for his life after Castile began reaching for a firearm that Castile had disclosed he had in his possession. Yanez shot Castile five times.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota on Saturday said Castile did not deserve to die.

“Whatever one’s opinion of the outcome of this case, we must come together and take concrete action to reckon with and dismantle the systemic racial inequalities that lead to far too many of these deaths,” Franken wrote on Facebook.

The video footage of the aftermath of the shooting taken by Castile’s girlfriend had shaped many public perceptions of the fatal shooting before the trial.

The video begins with the girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, in the passenger seat as Castile, covered in blood, sits in the driver’s seat and a patrolman points his gun into the vehicle.

“He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out of his pocket,” Reynolds says. “He let the officer know that he had a firearm and that he was reaching for his wallet, and the officer just shot him in his arm.”

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  • Karen Celestan

    Luke –
    I take umbrage at the headline for this piece, especially the use of the word, ‘erupt.’ This implies that the protests were threatening or out-of-control in nature and falls right in line with the view by members of the alt-right and other racist entities – that people of color are inherently violent. This was a peaceful demonstration in response to a tremendous miscarriage of justice. People were exercising their right to free speech. Please let your material reflect that truth and not fall into the trap by a lot of media outlets by taking the easy way out. Choose your words carefully going forward. You certainly know better. And for the record, I appreciate the work that you are doing. Thanks.

  • The message seems pretty clear, if you are a cop ad shoot a non-white, it’s okay, an the law is on your side. Very tragic and frightening,

    • as History shows…….this has always been an issue. During slavery Blacks were not allowed to have guns or any thing close to a weapon to include money. If so you were shot on spot or lynched which is apparently still legal. During reconstruction if you were our walking the streets you were arrested for loitering. So now as it was then, you are incarcerated for slave wages in the “system”. This keeps the black family devastated and for large corporations to continue the slave economy.

  • Didn’t even serve 5 years in jail. What does a cop have to do to get convicted in this country of killing a person of color? I had to explain to a young white co-worker a little while ago, why Black Lives Mater was so important. He was questioning why , even with video, in South Carolina, the police couldn’t be convicted but he said that he felt that all lives matter. It seems all the police have to do is cry and say that they were in fear for their life. Start giving better psychological test for incoming cops and maybe you wont get so many people who are obviously not fit to be police officers.

  • Michael J. "Orange Mike" Lowrey

    Yet further proof that society is not willing to tolerate Black people with weapons, and that “concealed carry” laws are just methods to systematize and enshrine white privileges. Castile’s family probably wishes he’d lied about that gun, or that he’d never been naïve enough to get it in the first place.

  • That cop should be under the jail and so should whomever acquitted him – insanity! If you are that fearful of your life as a cop you need another job. The film showed it all just like the issue in the Carolina’s where the policeman shot the man in the back claiming he was scared. I hope someone got help for the baby girl in the car who saw her daddy massacred for no reason.

  • This man was murdered on video yet the cop gets away with it AGAIN. He was fired but can probably go get himself a job in Mississippi or Alabama with no problem. TOTALLY RIDUCULOUS. My theory is that these killer cops are actually too scared to have this job or want to see what it feels like to kill someone. He shot this unarmed man five times.

    • Charity Dell

      JEFF–Remember that, in these here United States of America, most ethnic groups are
      CRIMINALS. This is the inheritance of the RACE CARD we African-Americans were and are assigned at birth. America
      has decided this since the European conquest of the the Caribbean and the New World since the late 1500’s.
      Consequently, law enforcement receives the same indoctrination about African-Americans, and receives the
      same mandate that has always been in force:

      A. African-Americans are OTHER; they are not American.
      B. African-Americans must be “managed” and exterminated BY ANY MEANS POSSIBLE.
      C. All law enforcement has the right to TERMINATE ANY AFRICAN-AMERICAN WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE, AT
      D. All African-Americans are potential criminals, and endanger the entire population of the United States. That danger
      MUST be eliminated by NEUTRALIZING THE THREAT. The threat is neutralized through EXECUTION, the most
      efficient form of GENOCIDE.

      Since most law enforcement is trained to regard all Black and Brown people as “the enemy”, it is unnecessary
      to pursue any other policy than “shoot to kill.”

  • I am struggling to understand how that officer could be in fear of his life. Philando Castile had his girlfriend and her daughter in the car. Why on earth would he have pulled a weapon AFTER he advised the officer, appropriately, that he was carrying a weapon with a permit. If that officer was fearful, that officer should not be an officer, in my opinion. That is a job that requires critical thinking at all times, fearful reactions shouldn’t be part of the job.

  • In a society that uses a punitive approach to justice, and a skills and weapons basis of training police officers, the focus of training occurs without an goal of learning about the people they pull over. There are alternative efforts being used in Chicago and research exists about practices with less focus on weapons, in other countries, result in fewer incidents of violence. This focus on law enforcement as heroes saving us from “predators” – is self serving to some in the police. A real hero is someone who repeatedly asks himself if his efforts at crowd or personal control, are being done in the best way possible, to keep all alive, do the least harm to all, especially to the police, but including to any suspects, and create the least fear in the process. In my own work with behaviorally challenging people, I listened if someone gave me advice on less harmful ways to do it – maybe my first reaction might be resentment at criticism, but then I try, try other methods, try to work WITH the other being, not treat them as a likely enemy. In the Castile case, why was the police officer’s weapon even in his hand (let alone fired) when Castile was being stopped for a broken tail light????

    They need to start contests for which police can argue for ways to step back, give up, in all cases of minor infractions, record any issues – bring info back to office and community relations who can investigate and resolve issues. Aiming for instant and total control, interprets suspects as primarily enemies, leaves no room at all to seek more information by actually LISTENING to what they say and leaving room for the possibility that it is true. I had to learn in my human services work, that allowing time to pause, propose action but then pause, leave time for the other, and work with them – saves so many people, who are not easy to understand at first, but who have reasons, that show us we are on same side.

  • It’s not fair, but it is reality. Stand your ground laws and carrying of concealed weapons are not for us – especially Black men.

    • Former Milwaukee Police Officer Acquitted in Deadly Shooting That Sparked Protests

      Here is a Black officer that shot killed black suspect. Lets here the outrage on this one?!

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