Cop acquitted in shooting death of a black Minnesota motorist

Philando Castile

But the town dismisses the police officer following the verdict

By Frederick H. Lowe

A majority white jury today acquitted a Minnesota police officer in last year’s shooting death of a black motorist who told the cop minutes earlier that he was a registered gun owner and was carrying a weapon.

The jury acquitted Jeronimo Yanez, of the St. Anthony, Minn., police department of all charges, including first-degree manslaughter, in the shooting death of Philando Castile, 32, on July 16, 2016, in Falcon Heights, Minn., near Minneapolis.

Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, who was sitting in the car’s front passenger seat livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. Reynolds testified that she livestreamed the shootings aftermath because she feared Yanez would kill her. Reynolds’ four-year-old daughter was sitting in the car’s backseat.

Yanez testified that he stopped Castile’s car because he resembled one of two men who were involved in a recent robbery. When Yanez stopped the car, Castile told him he was a registered gun owner and that he was carrying the gun at the time. Castile was ruled out as a suspect in the robbery. No one has been arrested.

Jeronimo Yanez. The City of St. Anthony, Minn., announced that Yanez is no longer a police officer.

According to a transcript, Yanez said, “Okay, don’t reach for it.” As Castile reached for his ID and proof of registration, as requested by Yanez, he fired seven shots killing him. Police found Castile’s .40 caliber pistol in his right front pocket. The gun contained a loaded magazine but there wasn’t a bullet in the chamber.

When the verdict was read, some spectators cursed the jury, shouting that Yanez got away with murder.

Following the verdict, the City of Anthony announced that it has dismissed Yanez as a police officer.

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. The terms of this agreement will be negotiated in the near future, so details are not available at this time. In the meantime, Officer Yanez will not return to active duty,” the city officials said in a statement.

Last month, a majority white jury acquitted Tulsa, Okla., police officer Betty Shelby of first degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed motorist, after his vehicle stalled in the middle of the road. The deadly shooting occurred in September 16, 2016.

Terence Crutcher

Shelby collected more than $35,000 in back pay and has returned to work but not to patrol.

Betty Shelby

Crutcher’s estate has sued Shelby and the City of Tulsa. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, seeks financial damages and departmental reform.

In the Crutcher shooting and in the Castile shooting, both cops used the same defense. They said they fired their weapons because they feared for their lives.

 

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