Killing of Philando Castile felt across Twin Cities, nation


Philando Castile

 

The funeral for Philando Castile, the 32-year-old black man from St. Paul who was shot and killed by a police officer in Falcon Heights during a traffic stop, was July 14 at the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Castile, who was killed the evening of July 6 by St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, a four-year veteran of the police force that contracts with Falcon Heights for service, was a nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in the St. Paul school district.

The killing set off waves of protests, with people gathering at Larpenteur Avenue and Fry Street early in the morning of July 7, and then marching to the Governor's Mansion in St. Paul, with people maintaining a vigil there in the following days. 

Marchers stopped traffic on Interstate 94 in St. Paul the night of July 9, and a violent clash between police and elements of the protest ensued; peaceful protests happened elsewhere in the metro that weekend, including a march July 10 that closed roads in suburban St. Anthony Village.

During rush hour the morning of July 13, protesters shut down southbound Interstate 35W on the 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

Castile's death, the aftermath of which was documented in a Facebook Live video, along with the police killing of a black man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and the murder of five police officers in Dallas, have dominated the national news.

A St. Anthony Police Department release issued July 7 offers scarce details about the shooting. The release said the traffic stop happened around 9 p.m. July 6.

"During the stop, shots were fired," the release stated. "One adult male was taken to the hospital. We have been informed that this individual is deceased."

The release said that St. Anthony police turned the case over to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and that police found a handgun at the scene. 

A BCA release from late July 7 identified Yanez as the officer who shot Castile. He and Officer Joseph Kauser, who was also at the scene, were placed on paid administrative leave, the release says. 

Scanner audio reportedly from the time of the shooting may indicate St. Anthony police thought Castile fit the description of a suspect in a recent robbery.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a July 8 statement that following the BCA investigation of the killing, the case will be presented to his office for prosecution. Although his office usually uses a grand jury to decide whether to prosecute police in cases such as this, Choi said that he would reserve the option to make the decision within his office. 

Choi stated, "Regardless of whether the decision to prosecute is made by the residents of Ramsey County, through the grand jury process or by this office, the law remains the same: 

"The use of deadly force by a police officer is justified only when necessary to protect the officer  or another from apparent death or great bodily harm."   

The Castile family hired Judge Glenda Hatchett as its legal counsel and held a press conference July 12. "We're going to sue whoever's responsible," Hatchett said at the press conference.

That same day, President Barack Obama called Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, to give his condolences.

 

 

 

 

 

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