On Friday afternoon Jeronimo Yanez, the former police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile last summer during an otherwise routine traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, was found not guilty of all counts:
Jury deliberations spanned 27 hours over five days. And, when the verdict was real aloud in court, Castile's family angrily stormed out of the courtroom.
Yanez had been charged with second-degree manslaughter, as well as two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm. Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the car with Castile (and her four-year-old daughter) at the time, and who had livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook, released a statement about the verdict where she said that she was "incredibly disappointed" with the outcome:
Additionally, the St. Anthony Police force for which Yanez had worked for announced he would not return to his former position.
"The City of St. Anthony has concluded that the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city. The city intends to offer Officer Yanez a voluntary separation agreement to help him transition to another career other than being a St. Anthony officer.”
That statement read:
Castile's mother, Valerie, also addressed the press after the judgment was rendered. “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. I am so disappointed in the state of Minnesota. My son loved Minnesota. He had one tattoo on his body and it was of the Twin Cities. My son loved this city, and the city killed my son and the murderer gets away.”
Prosecutors, who are set to speak around 5 p.m. CT today, had argued that Yanez had racially profiled Castile when he pulled him over for a busted brake light. Yanez counters that he believed Castile was a suspect in a convenience store robbery that had occurred four days earlier. Castile was never connected to that crime.
Yanez's defense attorneys had argued that Castile was at fault because the officer had seen him reach for a gun despite his demands to not reach for his weapon. Castile had previously informed Yanez that he had a firearm and was licensed to carry it. That was according to Reynolds, who said on her Facebook stream, "He let the officer know that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm."
The footage then goes on to show Yanez yelling, "I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand off it!" To that Reynolds replied, "You told him to get his ID, sir. He was just getting his license and registration." Dash cam footage recorded audio of Castile saying he wasn't going for his gun.
The shooting had been one of several that had ignited nationwide protests amidst charges that it was yet another instance of police brutality against the black community.