On July 6, a Minnesota cop shot and killed Philando Castile in Falcon Heights during a routine traffic stop. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, livestreamed the aftermath on Facebook, which showed Officer Jeronimo Yanez freaking out while holding a gun on the couple. Philando suffered immensely in the video, and he was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. He had informed the officer that he was licensed to carry a gun and that one was in the vehicle, but when he reached for his wallet, the officer shot him.
The case will not go to a grand jury. Instead, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced on Wednesday that Officer Yanez has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in Castile’s death. Two additional felony charges involving dangerous discharge of a firearm were tacked onto Yanez’s court appearance. Choi also relayed that Yanez’s “use of deadly force was not justified” and further explained his conclusions to the press:
“Based upon our thorough and exhaustive review of the facts, I have come to the conclusion that there simply was no justification for the use of deadly force by Officer Yanez in this case. No reasonable officer who knew, saw, and heard what Officer Yanez did at the time would have used deadly force under these circumstances.
“I ask for the public’s continued patience, trust and respect for the integrity of the process as we prosecute this case and seek justice for Philando Castile, his family and friends, including Diamond Reynolds and her daughter, and our broader community.”
Castile stood as a beloved figure in his community. In the days following his death, children and parents from the elementary school where he was employed paid tribute to his character. The senseless act by Yanez also sparked protests, which called for an end to police brutality. Tensions remained high, as Castile’s death arrived mere days after Alton Sterling was shot point blank by cops in Baton Rouge.
The Department of Justice has launched an investigation into Sterling’s death with the outcome still pending. However, the Tulsa officer who shot Terrence Crutcher (who held his hands in the air outside his vehicle) was charged with first-degree manslaughter within a week of the September incident.