Deadly police shootings

Minnesota Cop Charged in Shooting Death of a Black Man

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By Frederick H. Lowe

A Minnesota cop charged in the shooting death of a black man following a traffic stop is scheduled to appear in court this morning.

The Ramsey County, Minn., attorney’s office on Wednesday charged Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony police officer, with second degree manslaughter in the murder of Philando Castile, 32, whose shooting death was livestreamed on Facebook Live by his girlfriend.

Philando Castile
Philando Castile

Yanez also is charged with two additional felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon that endangered Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car Castile was driving, and her four-year-old daughter who was in the back seat.

The deadly shooting of Castile, a registered gun owner, occurred July 6, 2016, following a traffic stop for a broken taillight in Falcon Heights, Minn., near Minneapolis. Yanez was tailing Castile’s car. He believed that Castile looked like one of two suspects—black men with dreadlocks— involved in an earlier robbery when he stopped the car.

According to the felony complaint, which features a timeline, Castile stopped his car at 9:05 p.m. Yanez asked Castile for his driver’s license and proof of insurance.  Castile then told Yanez he had a “firearm on me.”

Yanez said, “Okay, don’t reach for it, then. ” Castile responded: “I’m …I’m  [inaudible] reaching…, before being again interrupted by Yanez, who screamed: “Don’t pull it out.”  Yanez quickly pulled out his own gun and fired seven shots in Castile’s direction.

A wounded Castile said he wasn’t pulling out his gun. He was reaching for additional ID. Reynolds screamed he wasn’t reaching for his gun. A distraught Reynolds told Yanez that Castile was licensed to carry a gun. The deadly shooting angered the National Rifle Association because Castile had informed Yanez he was a registered gun owner and was carrying a weapon.

Jeronimo Yanez
Jeronimo Yanez

Police found a .40 caliber semiautomatic pistol in Castile’s right front pocket. The gun contained a loaded magazine but there was no bullet in the chamber.

The deadly shooting occurred in less than a minute. Yanez stopped Castile’s car at 9:05 p.m.  Just after 9:06 p.m., he was dead.

“Based upon our thorough and exhaustive review of the facts, I have come to the conclusion that there simply was not justification for 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,” said John Choi, Ramsey County Attorney.

Castile was ruled out as a suspect in the robbery. No one has been arrested.

If convicted of the second degree manslaughter charge, Yanez could spend 10 years in prison and pay a $20,000 fine.

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