Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty on all counts in the killing of Philando Castile.
Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm. Jurors, who appeared to be deadlocked earlier in the week, found him not guilty on all three charges Friday afternoon.
The jury, which deliberated for about 29 hours, had to decide whether Yanez acted recklessly when he fatally shot Castile during a traffic stop on July 6, 2016, based on the evidence presented to them during the trial, which included five days of testimony.
Castile’s family and spokesperson held a news conference outside the courthouse. You can watch a replay via Facebook live here:
Reaction after officer Yanez found not guilty in shooting of Philando Castile.
Posted by Go MN News on Friday, June 16, 2017
“The system continues to fail black people, and it will continue to fail you all,” Philando Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile said outside the courthouse, adding: “My son loved this state. He had one tattoo on his body and it was the Twin Cities … My son loved this city, and this city killed my son.”
Later, she said of Yanez: “He will have to face his creator, and I hope he dies tonight.”
Judge Glenda Hatchett, a representative for the Castile family, told reporters outside the courtroom afterward, “This time there should have been, in our opinion, a very very very different outcome. Because if Philando can die under these circumstance, let’s be clear, each of you could die.”
She said they would keep fighting, and thanked Ramsey County Attorney John Choi for bringing criminal charges in the case – the first time in Minnesota history an officer was charged with killing a civilian while on duty.
St. Anthony plans to fire Yanez
Yanez meanwhile will no longer be an officer with the City of St. Anthony.
The city in a statement after the verdict said “the public will be best served” if he doesn’t work with the force anymore. They’ll offer him a voluntary separation agreement to help him transition to a different job.
He won’t return to active duty with St. Anthony police.
Rally in St. Paul Friday evening
A “unified response” is planned at the State Capitol at 7 p.m., with the group saying it’s to “protest this failure of justice!”
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman put out a statement, saying he “urge[s] each of us to move forward in a way that is peaceful and respectful of everyone – residents, demonstrators and police officers alike.”
He also acknowledged it’s a “difficult time” for everyone in the community, and the city will be holding community conversations starting Friday night at 6 p.m. You can see the initial schedule here.
Supporters seeking justice for Castile have been tweeting using the hashtag #Justice4Philando.
The arguments during the trial
Prosecutors argued Yanez’s actions weren’t reasonable for the situation, with experts testifying there was no reason for Yanez to believe Castile was a threat. Witness Diamond Reynolds (Castile’s girlfriend who livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook) testified Castile wasn’t going for his gun, while prosecutors said Castile was reaching for his wallet. Prosecutors also argued Yanez never told Castile to stop moving.
Meanwhile, Yanez testified he was scared for his life when he saw Castile’s gun. The defense argued Castile was too high on marijuana to follow Yanez’s orders, so when he grabbed for his gun, Yanez had to shoot.
Steve Swanson, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, explained the dilemma in this video.
Jurors appeared deadlocked earlier in the week, and on Wednesday were encouraged by the judge to continue deliberating. They worked through lunch Thursday, returned Friday morning, and reached a verdict shortly after 2 p.m.