By Frederick H. Lowe
When Jeronimo Yanez, a police officer with the St. Anthony, Minn., police department, pulled over a car driven by Philando Castile last July 6 in Falcon Heights, Minn., he claimed it was because one of the car’s brake lights were out, according to a police dash-cam video that shows the deadly shooting of Castile by Yanez (the video is disturbing and some may not want to see it).
Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, livestreamed on Facebook the shooting’s aftermath with a bleeding and dying Castile in the driver’s seat.
The Minnesota Bureau of Public Safety released the dash-cam video on Tuesday. Coupled with Reynolds’ livestream, readers have a complete picture concerning the reasons for the traffic stop, the deadly shooting and its aftermath.
Yanez’s explanation for stopping Castile was partly a ruse because he also believed Castile fit the description of one of two robbers because he was black man with dreadlocks and a wide nose.
Castile, a cafeteria worker employed by St. Paul, Minn., Public School District, handed Yanez the car’s registration and calmly told the officer he was a registered gun owner and was carrying a weapon.
Yanez said to Castile “Ok. “But don’t pull it out. Almost in the same breath, he asked Castile for his driver’s license.
As Castile reached for his driver’s license, Yanez screamed several times, “Don’t to pull it [the gun] out.” His command is followed by him rapidly firing into the car, wounding Castile who later died.
The shots scared Reynolds and the couple’s four-year-old daughter. Yanez fired a total of seven shots while moving from one side of the driver’s side window to the other. A wounded and bleeding Castile yelled that he wasn’t reaching for his gun.
Reynolds was sitting in the front passenger seat, and the couple’s daughter was sitting in the back seat. Neither suffered physical injuries, but they were frightened and surely suffered traumatic stress. The little girl screamed and later attempted to comfort her mother. There were horrible screams by the mother and daughter.
Reynolds livestreamed the aftermath of the deadly shooting on Facebook because she feared Yanez would kill her and she wanted the truth about the traffic stop to come out. The livestream shows Yanez’s gun pointing through the car’s open driver’s side window and Castile’s white T-shirt covered with blood.
“I told him not to pull it out,” Yanez shouted angrily. Reynolds calmly explained that her boyfriend was reaching for his driver’s license as Yanez had demanded.
Later a handcuffed Reynolds tells her daughter not to be scared. The police just shot him [Philando] for no apparent reason. No reason at all. They asked for his license and registration. Castile’s gun was found in his right front pocket. There wasn’t a bullet in the gun’s chamber.
Yanez cursed loudly and said fuck several times as he explained to his fellow officers why he shot Castile.
The District Attorney’s Office charged Yanez was with one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. A mostly white jury acquitted Yanez of all charges on June 16, 2017. That same day, he was fired by the City of St. Anthony.
One of the jurors told a television reporter that racism did not play a role in the traffic stop.