A Minnesota police officer that fatally shot Philando Castile has been charged with second degree manslaughter, prosecutors announced Wednesday. The aftermath of the incident was streamed live on Facebook by his girlfriend.
St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Philando Castile, 32, on July 6 during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the car with her daughter at the time of the incident. Reynolds said that Castile was shot multiple times while reaching for his ID after telling the officer that he had a license to carry and was armed at the time.
“I have given Officer Yanez every benefit of the doubt on his use of deadly force, but I cannot allow the death of a motorist who was lawfully carrying a firearm under these facts and circumstances to go unaccounted for,” John J. Choi, the Ramsey County attorney, told reporters.
“It is my conclusion that the use of deadly force by Officer Yanez was not justified and that sufficient facts exist to prove this to be true,” Choi said.
“Philando Castile did not exhibit any intent, nor did he have any reason to shoot officer Yanez,” Choi said. “In fact, his dying words were in protest that he wasn’t reaching for his gun. There simply was no objective threat posed to Officer Yanez, (his partner), or anyone in that car.”
Yanez’s attorney, Tom Kelly, said Yanez thought that Castile was a possible match for an armed robbery suspect and that he reacted to the presence of the gun and that Castile was not following Yanez’ commands.
Previously, in the course of the past 13 years, Castile had been pulled over nearly 50 times, mostly for minor infractions.
After the Facebook video was streamed, it was shared and viewed widely across the internet. Demonstrators protested outside the Minnesota governor’s residence and at some points, threw objects at police officers. More than 20 police officers were injured and roughly 50 people were arrested.
Yanez was also charged with multiple accounts of dangerous discharge of a firearm.