Minn. cop charged in man’s death

Of­fi­cer faces man­slaugh­ter in shoot­ing streamed on Facebook

Baltimore Sun - - NATION - By Kyle Pot­ter and Amy Forliti

ST. PAUL, Minn. — When Phi­lando Castile was pulled over in July, he calmly told the of­fi­cer he had a gun and was li­censed to carry it, ac­cord­ing to prose­cu­tors.

Mo­ments later, the of­fi­cer fired on the mo­torist, and a bleed­ing Castile ut­tered his last words: “I wasn’t reach­ing for it.”

On Wed­nes­day, that of­fi­cer was charged with sec­ond-de­gree man­slaugh­ter af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by prose­cu­tors, who con­cluded that Jeron­imo Yanez was wrong to use his weapon in the traf­fic stop, which was seen by mil­lions af­ter Castile’s girl­friend streamed his fi­nal mo­ments live on Facebook.

“No rea­son­able of­fi­cer, know­ing, see­ing and hear­ing what of­fi­cer Yanez did at the time, would’ve used deadly force un­der these cir­cum­stances,” Ram­sey County At­tor­ney John Choi said.

Prose­cu­tors be­lieve Castile never tried to pull his hand­gun from his pocket, and Yanez’s un­rea­son­able fear did not jus­tify the shoot­ing, Choi said.

If con­victed, Yanez could face up to 10 years in prison.

Di­a­mond Reynolds was sit­ting next to her boyfriend in the car. She said he was shot re­peat­edly as he reached for his ID af­ter telling Yanez about the weapon and the gun per­mit.

The fa­tal shoot­ings of black men and boys by po­lice of­fi­cers have come un­der height­ened scru­tiny since the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Fer­gu­son, Mo. No charges were Va­lerie Castile, cen­ter, mother of Phi­lando Castile, at­tends a news con­fer­ence about her son’s death Wed­nes­day in Min­neapo­lis. Phi­lando Castile, 32, was killed by an of­fi­cer in July. filed against the of­fi­cer in that case, but Brown’s death led to calls na­tion­wide for of­fi­cers to be held crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble.

Yanez, who worked in the Min­neapo­lis sub­urb of St. An­thony, was sched­uled to make his first court ap­pear­ance Fri­day.

His at­tor­ney, Tom Kelly, has said Yanez, who is Latino, was re­act­ing to the pres­ence of a gun.

Kelly has also said that one rea­son Yanez made the stop was be­cause he thought Castile looked like a pos­si­ble match for an armed rob­bery sus­pect.

Choi said Wed­nes­day that Castile, 32, was not a sus­pect in that rob­bery.

Castile’s rel­a­tives have said they be­lieve the ele­men­tary school cafe­te­ria worker was racially pro­filed.

Kelly did not im­me­di­ately re­turn phone mes­sages seek­ing com­ment Wed­nes­day. Castile’s mother, Va­lerie Castile, said her fam­ily was pleased with the charge.

“It is nec­es­sary for every­one to un­der­stand that we want peace,” she said. “We don’t want any protests to get ou­tra­geous.”

Castile’s 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 who were hit with bot­tles, rocks and other ob­jects.

Choi re­sisted pres­sure to turn the case over to a spe­cial prose­cu­tor, but he added one to his team to get an out­side per­spec­tive. He said Wed­nes­day that he re­viewed the case him­self in­stead of send­ing it to a grand jury in the in­ter­est of trans­parency.

He gave a de­tailed ac­count of the shoot­ing, de­scrib­ing a rou­tine traf­fic


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