Friday, 18 August, 2017

Thousands Protest Verdict Handed To Officer Who Shot Philando Castile

Wilma Wheeler | 18 June, 2017, 00:43

The jury reached its verdict of not guilty on the manslaughter charge as well as the two counts of risky discharge of a firearm Friday afternoon after about 30 hours of deliberations. Following the announcement of the verdict, Castile's mother accused the officer of murdering her son, while thousands protested in the streets.

Yanez, who is Latino, pulled Castile over for a broken tail light July 6 in Falcon Heights, after alerting his police partner in another squad auto that Castile resembled one of the suspects in a recent armed robbery, due to his "wide-set nose". Castile had a permit for the weapon.

Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, though sentencing guidelines suggested around four years would have been more likely.

The mostly white jury deliberated for some 29 hours over the course of five days this week before reaching the verdict. After the verdict was read Friday afternoon, the city of St. Anthony swiftly announced plans to dismiss Yanez, despite his acquittal.

"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", it said in a statement.

Friday's march remained largely peaceful.

Eighteen demonstrators were arrested Saturday in St. Paul, Minnesota, after they blocked one of the city's freeways to protest the police shooting death of a black man.

Police ordered the protesters to disperse, and the crowd eventually moved off I-94 mainlines and onto an entrance ramp. She says those arrested were booked at Ramsey County Jail on charges including being a pedestrian on the busy freeway. Her son was wearing a seatbelt and in a auto with his girlfriend and her then-4-year-old daughter when he was shot. His death captured national attention when his girlfriend, who was in the vehicle with her young daughter, streamed the aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook. Others include, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., Eric Garner, who was held in a chokehold by police, and died in NY and Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, who was shot by an officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Yanez told Castile, "OK, don't reach for it then" and "Don't pull it out". The defense also argued Castile was high on marijuana and said that affected his actions.

Prosecutor John Choi, who made the decision to charge Yanez, said although he was disappointed, the verdict "must be respected". They contended that Castile was not a threat.

Allysza Castile, Philando's younger sister, was more resigned while speaking to reporters. "I will never have faith in the system".

"People have died for us to have these rights and now we're devolving", she said. It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Officer Yanez is a policeman. The terms of the agreement were yet to be negotiated, but Yanez would not return to active duty, the statement said. The vigil was held after St. Antho. The school district said grief counselors will be available to speak to students and staff.

Castile said her son would never jeopardize someone's life, especially with his girlfriend and her child in the vehicle at the time.

Meanwhile, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman described Castile as a "son of Saint Paul".

The acquittal of a Minnesota officer in the death of a licensed gun owner who volunteered that he had a gun seconds before being fatally shot during a traffic stop adds to the worries of African-American gun owners about how they are treated by police and society.

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