Ramsey County Attorney John Choi addressed the press oer the Philando Castile shooting. His review of the investigation resulted in charges against officer Jeronimo Yanez for ‘unjustified use of deadly force’
Officer Jeronimo Yanez fired killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop on July 16.The stop allegedly, was based on racial profiling
Choi said it was his conclusion that “use of deadly force by Officer Yanez was not justified.” Yanez who fatally shot 32-year-old Philando Castile a black St. Paul schools employee, on July 6, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Choi said that Yanez and his partner, Joseph Kauser, pulled Castile over the night of July 6 because he was generically profiled in matching the description of a robbery suspect. They police scanner audio even caught the officers noting his [Castile’s] physical features. The reason for the stop is given as: “The two occupants just look like people [that were] involved in a robbery. The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ’cause of the wide-set nose.”
Philando Castile was shot by officer Yanez July 6, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota
A video recorded by his girlfriend who was in the car with her daughter during the stop, has been viewed millions of times around the world, and touched off widespread outrage and protests over several years of police killings of black men. It shows Castillo bleeding in the car while the officer held them at gunpoint.
The charges were filed following g 19 weeks of investigation and a review of the dash cam footage and audio footage taken during the shooting, Yanez made his first appearance in Ramsey County court, Friday.
Reliving the events leading to the fatal shooting. Choi said officer Yanez admitted he was aware that Castile was buckled in his seatbelt and described Castile as initially having his left arm over the steering wheel with both hands in view.
The officer and the driver exchanged greetings, and Yanez told him about a broken brake light. The driver of the vehicle was then asked to produce his driver’s license and proof of insurance.
Diamond Reynolds, Philando Castile’s girlfriend talks to protesters and the media during a protest pushing for justice in the case
After Castile provided him with the insurance, “Castile then calmly and in a non-threatening manner said: ‘Sir, I do have to tell you that I have a firearm on me,’ ” Choi said.
Officer Yanez replied ‘OK,’ then placed his hand on his gun.
Next Yanez said “Don’t reach for [the gun],” Choi said.
Castile responded, “I’m not pulling it out.”
Yanez screamed “Don’t pull it out,” then with his left hand reached inside the vehicle. Yanez withdrew his hand, then fired seven shots in rapid succession.
The final shot was fired at 9:06 p.m.
Castile’s final words, Choi said, were “I wasn’t reaching for it.”
“His dying words were in protest that he wasn’t reaching for his gun,” Choi said. “There simply was no objective threat posed to Officer Yanez.”
Choi said the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension interviewed Yanez the day after the shooting., Yanez said that after Castile told him he had a gun, Castile blocked the view of his right hand with his shoulder while he was reaching down.
“At that point, Officer Yanez said he was scared for his life,” Choi said. Noting that that the officer’s actions did not meet the legal standard for justified use of deadly force: “it is not enough… to express subjective fear of death or great bodily harm.”
After reviewing findings and evidence in the shooting handed to his office by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Choi said he chose to make the decision on charging himself, rather than turning the case over to a grand jury.
Diamond Reynolds holds up a cross during a vigil outside the governor’s residence in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was in the car with her boyfriend Philando Castile. She recorded the events as he was questioned and shot by officer Jeronimo Yanez on July 6
County prosecutor Ramsey Choi seemed to be acting to head off the recurrence of the botched internal investigations into the similar case of Minneapolis police fatally shot Jamar Clark a year ago. Choi apparently used the outcome of the Clark case as guidance in his handling of the Castile shooting.
Choi has noted that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman reviewed evidence in the Clark case for seven weeks before deciding that the officers should not be criminally charged in Clark’s death. Freeman did not take the Clark case to a grand jury, going against long-held practices in Minnesota.
Police shooting death of Philando Castile further fueled activists’ call for reform in policing and for criminal charges against cops involved in fatal shootings.
Pastor Danny Givens Jr., a clergy liaison with Black Lives Matter, sees the decision in the Castile case as s a turning point in the fight for justice.
“I wouldn’t say [law enforcement and authorities] are listening more,” Givens said. “I would say they’re reacting more now. We hope the reactivity will create a platform where they listen … and we’re forcing that … after weeks and months of nonviolent demonstrations.
“The Castile decision is the bow of the boat of justice that we’re fighting for …”