A Minnesota police officer accused of fatally shooting Philando Castile last summer has been found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter.
Philando Castile, 32, was shot several times by St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, last July after Castile was pulled over with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, a suburb of Saint Paul. The aftermath of the incident was captured as Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, went on Facebook live. She can be heard saying “say you did not just kill him, please tell me you did not”
After the non guilty verdict, Officer Yanez was also fired. The city of St. Anthony said in a statement that the “public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city.” The city will offer Yanez a “voluntary separation agreement” to help him transition to another career, it said.
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After the verdict was announced, Castile’s family addressed the media, applauding the efforts of Special Prosecutor Don Lewis and his team. “I don’t know what more could have been done,” said Castile family attorney Glenda Hatchett. “I am disappointed. My heart breaks for this family. My heart breaks for this nation.” Philando Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, said she was “mad as hell” with the verdict and called Yanez a “murderer.”
“The system continues to fail all black people,” she said.
She continued, “I am so disappointed in the state of Minnesota. My son loved this state.”
The ACLU said that the jury’s decision to acquit Yanez is “part of a disturbing national pattern of officers using execessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters.”
Prosecutors claimed that Yanez did not see the gun and acted unreasonably while the defense argued that Yanez saw Castile’s hand on the gun, which he had a permit to carry, the AP said.
Defense attorney Earl Gray said that the “verdict was correct” and that the “jury worked hard.” Another defense attorney, Thomas Kelly, that while Castile’s death was a tragedy, he is “satisfied” with the verdict and “relieved” that the trial is over.
St. Paul Public Schools, where Castile was employed as a cafeteria worker, described Castile as a “beloved employee.”
“This is a tragedy that impacts many people and lives in our community were forever changed,” the statement read. Grief counselors will be available to speak to students and school staff.
Source : ABC