On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, when he was fatally shot by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer. Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter were passengers. Diamond live-streamed Philando’s dying moments and the aftermath on Facebook. The officer shot 7 times, hitting Philando Castile 5 times, twice in the heart. Philando was 32-years old.
Yanez was charged and went to trial. He testified in court that he believed Philando matched the physical description of a robbery suspect, and that Philando was disobeying his commands and reaching for a gun. We followed the trial here and here.
Philando, who was licensed to carry a gun, had advised Officer Yanez that he had a firearm in the car. Prosecutors said he had done so to put the officer at ease, not to cause alarm.
The jury was deadlocked for almost a week, but ended up acquitting Yanzez. A juror gave an interview to MPR News on the condition of remaining anonymous.
“Jurors were quick to decide Yanez’s acquittal on felony weapons charges. The juror said photos of Castile’s body showed that Yanez was aiming away from the two passengers, Diamond Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter.”
“What we were looking at was some pretty obscure things to a lot of people, like culpable negligence. You think you might know what it means: It’s negligent, but maybe pretty bad negligence. Well, it’s gross negligence with an element of recklessness … We had the law in front of us so we could break it down.”
“It just came down to us not being able to see what was going on in the car. Some of us were saying that there was some recklessness there, but that didn’t stick because we didn’t know what escalated the situation: was he really seeing a gun? We felt [Yanez] was an honest guy … and in the end, we had to go on his word, and that’s what it came down to.”