The Minnesota police officer who Philando Castile during a traffic stop was acquitted on all charges by a jury Friday, a decision that came nearly a year after the encounter was partially streamed online to a rapt nation in the midst of a painful reckoning over shootings by law enforcement. Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled Castile’s car over in Falcon Heights, a suburb near Minneapolis and St. The stop quickly escalated. Yanez fired into the car, saying later he thought Castile was going for his gun, a claim Castile’s girlfriend, sitting in the seat next to him, disputed. She began streaming on Facebook Live. Police officers are seldom charged for fatal on-duty shootings and convictions are even less common. Castile’s death came at a time of intense scrutiny of fatal police-involved shootings, and the viral video of his final moments spurred heated demonstrations that continued . Outside the court, where a small group of protesters gathered Friday afternoon, Castile’s relatives denounced the jury’s decision.
Castile’s mother called his death a murder and tied the verdict to what she described as systemic racism in Minnesota. “The system continues to fail black people, and it will continue to fail you all, ” Valerie Castile said, her anger building. “My son loved this city and this city killed my son. And the murderer gets away. Are you kidding me right now?
”Prosecutors charged Yanez with second-degree manslaughter, a felony, saying that “no reasonable officer” would have used deadly force in the same situation. He with two felony counts for intentionally discharging the gun. Jurors began deliberating Monday, and the verdict was announced Friday afternoon. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) said the state continues to grieve with Castile’s family, calling his death “a terrible tragedy, with devastating consequences for everyone involved.
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”On Friday evening, several hundred protesters amassed around the steps of the state Capitol in St. Paul to decry the verdict. One protester, local activist Vanessa Taylor, said the verdict confirmed her worst fears about the legal system. “Philando was everything that people say you’re supposed to be, ” Taylor said. ”Many activists later moved to Interstate 99, one of the main highways in the Twin Cities area.
A few dozen people briefly moved onto the road itself while facing police in riot gear, but most of the protesters soon dispersed. Police said about 555 protesters had gathered on the interstate late Friday, closing it to traffic. The Minnesota State Patrol said demonstrators would be arrested if they did not leave the interstate, and early Saturday, the agency said 68 protesters had been arrested. Among the onlookers on the side of the highway was Melissa York, a St. Paul resident who was accompanied by her son and daughter.
York compared Castile to Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. , both of whom were fatally shot by police officers. “My son here is soon to be 69, and he could very well be a victim like Tamir Rice or Mike Brown or all those other people, ” York said as she watched protesters march down the highway. “It’s very important that he know what’s happening. I want him to be aware of what’s happening to our people in today’s society.
”Officials in St. Anthony, Minn.