Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop, has been charged with 2nd-Degree manslaughter, as well as two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a weapon. The charge was announced Wednesday by Ramsey County Attorney, John Choi.
Choi said he made his decision after reviewing dashcam footage of the interaction between Castile and the officer who killed him, Jeronimo Yanez. According to Choi, Castile complied with Yanez’s instructions during the traffic stop, keeping his hands in sight before informing the officer, “calmly and in a non-threatening manner,” that he had a gun. (Castile had a license to carry his firearm, and his family provided a copy of his permit to media about a week after the shooting.) Choi said that Yanez responded by instructing Castile not to pull the gun out. Though Castile replied, “I’m not pulling it out,” Yanez repeated, this time screaming, “Don’t pull it out.” He then proceeded to fire seven shots. According to Choi, Castile’s final words were, “I wasn’t reaching for it.”
The dashcam footage Choi referred to has not been made public, though the ACLU has sued for its release. The aftermath of Castile’s fatal shooting was, however, captured on video by his girlfriend and streamed live on Facebook. The death of Castile, a 32-year-old black man, came during a particularly traumatic week, one that began with the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and ended with the killing of five police officers in Dallas by a sniper who said he was motivated by a desire to kill white officers.
Before the shooting in Falcon Heights, which left Castile clinging to his life while his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter looked on, Yanez had said over his police radio that he was pulling Castile over because he matched the description of a robbery suspect. (Yanez, who is Latino, took particular note of Castile’s “wide-set nose.”) According to Choi, Yanez told investigators a day after the shooting that he had become scared for his life because he believed Castile was trying to block the officer’s view of his right hand. Choi, the prosecutor in Ramsey County, said at Wednesday’s press conference that expressing “subjective fear of death or great bodily harm” is “not enough” to legally justify the use of deadly force by a police officer. “I would submit that no reasonable officer knowing, seeing and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time would have used deadly force under these circumstances,” Choi said.
Too bad it’s only manslaughter. That man was MURDERED for no reason in front of his 4-year-old daughter!