In devastating-yet-wholly-unsurprising news: the Minnesota officer who killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop last year was acquitted on all charges related to the shooting, according to The New York Times.
On July 6, 2016, Jeronimo Yanez fired seven shots at the 32-year-old, who’d informed him he was traveling with a registered handgun. Castile’s girlfriend was seated in the passenger seat and began a Facebook Live video documenting the moments after the fatal shooting.
Diamond Richards has maintained Castile was being compliant and attempting to show the officer his driver’s license when he opened fire. Her four-year-old daughter was in the back seat and can be heard attempting to comfort her mother after she was ordered out of the car, handcuffed, and placed in the back of a police vehicle following her boyfriend’s violent death.
Yanez, an officer with the St. Anthony Police Department, stated on the Facebook Live video, and again in court, that he thought Castile was reaching for a gun—an oft-repeated claim by officers who’ve shot unarmed Black people. He also claimed he smelled marijuana, with his defense attorney claiming Castile was “stoned” and ultimately responsible for his own death.
According to NYT, this may have been the first time in the history of Minnesota that an officer had been charged in an on-duty fatal shooting.
NPR reported Castile had been stopped while driving 46 times between July 2002 and his death, amassing some $6,000 in fines. Evidence points to Castile being a perpetual victim of racial profiling: “Of all of the stops, only six of them were things a police officer would notice from outside a car—things like speeding or having a broken muffler.”
Prosecutor Jeffrey Paulsen argued Yanez failed to conduct himself as a police officer should, leading to the fatal shooting: “He was making assumptions and jumping to conclusions without engaging in the dialogue he was trained to have in a citizen encounter like this. And that’s his fault, not the fault of Philando Castile.”
Paulsen also questioned the aggression towards Castile, whom he said “offered no resistance” after being pulled over. “He made no threats. He didn’t even complain about being stopped for such a minor offense.”
Just last month, Tulsa police officer Betty Jo Shelby was acquitted of manslaughter charges following the death of Terrence Crutcher. Shelby shot the unarmed man—whose hands were up at the time—claiming she thought he was reaching for a gun.
What was that about “trusting the system” again?