A Minnesota police officer has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile, a black man whose girlfriend streamed the gruesome aftermath of the fatal shooting live on Facebook, prosecutors announced Wednesday.
St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot the 32-year-old during a July 6 traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the car along with her young daughter at the time. The woman said Castile was shot several times while reaching for his ID after telling Yanez he had a gun permit and was armed.
Yanez’s attorney, Tom Kelly, has said Yanez, who is Latino, was reacting to the presence of a gun, and that one reason Yanez pulled Castile over was because he thought he looked like a possible match for an armed robbery suspect.
But family members claimed Castile, an elementary school cafeteria worker, was racially profiled.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi got the case from investigators in late September and began reviewing the evidence for possible charges. Choi resisted pressure immediately after the shooting to turn the case over to a special prosecutor, but added one to his team to get an outside perspective. He also enlisted the help of national use-of-force consultants.
Choi’s office has said a key question in his review was determining whether Yanez was justified in believing deadly force was necessary.
In Minnesota, second-degree manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter, carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
The shooting prompted numerous protests, including a weekslong demonstration outside the governor’s mansion and one protest that shut down Interstate 94 in St. Paul for hours. The interstate protest resulted in about 50 arrests and injuries to more than 20 officers, after police said they were hit with cement chunks, bottles, rocks and other objects. (AP)