Philando Castile Family Reach Settlement After Shooting-Officer Acquitted

Black Lives Matter Protest, 2015
Photo credit: Leanna Childers

10 days ago, police officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter for the shooting death of Philando Castile, who was riding in the passenger’s seat with his girlfriend and their 3-year-old daughter when Yanez for a broken taillight. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook live and dashboard and other footage was released last week when the trial ended which shows her daughter attempting to calm Ms. Reynolds down, saying “I don’t want you to get shooted.” 

The Castile family had brought a lawsuit against the city of St. Anthony, Minnesota in the, and it was announced Monday that the family had settled for $3 million. 

Earlier this month, Michael Brown’s family settled with Ferguson, Missouri for an estimated $1.5 million; Brown was shot and killed by police at 18-years-old. In 2016, Cleveland paid $6 million to Tamir Rice’s family; Rice was a twelve-year-old playing with a pellet gun in a park and was shot within seconds of police arriving on the scene. 

Castile informed Yanez that he had a weapon on his person, which he was licensed to carry in the open-carry state of Minnesota. Reports indicate that when Yanez asked him to show him identification, Castile reached for his pocket and Yanez fired multiple shots. In the Facebook video posted by Diamond Reynolds, Castile can be seen dying as his shirt becomes soaked with blood and Yanez continues to hold the car at gunpoint while awaiting backup. 

The Castile family reportedly took the settlement on the condition that they would not bring a civil rights lawsuit against the federal government, which the family had previously been planning to do. 

Yanez testified in criminal court that he believed Castile matched descriptions of a wanted robbery suspect, and that he was disobeying Yanez’s commands and reaching for his gun, again which he was licensed to carry. Reynolds testified that he was reaching for his driver’s license, as Yanez had instructed him to do. Prosecutors argued that Castile was not threatening Yanez by informing him that he had a legally carried handgun, but merely trying to be forthright and reassuring should the officer spot the gun without knowing it was there. 

In a month where four police officers have gone on trial in shooting deaths of black victims, Yanez is believed to be the first Minnesota police officer charged for a fatal shooting that occurred while on duty. 

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