Minnesota Cop Who Killed Philando Castile Is Charged With Second-Degree Manslaughter

“No reasonable officer…would have used deadly force under these circumstances.”

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced the charges on Wednesday.David Joles/AP

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The suburban police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a Minnesota traffic stop is being charged with second-degree manslaughter, John Choi, Ramsey County’s top prosecutor, announced on Wednesday.

Castile, 32, was shot by officer Jeronimo Yanez last July. According to Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was also in the car along with the couple’s young daughter, the officer fired his weapon as Castile reached to get his ID, after Castile informed Yanez he had a (legally permitted) gun. Reynolds live streamed the aftermath on Facebook, and her video sparked weeks of protests in Minneapolis and nationwide.

The shooting “was not necessary, was objectively unreasonable, and was inconsistent with generally accepted police practices.”

Officer Yanez’s use of deadly force “was not necessary, was objectively unreasonable, and was inconsistent with generally accepted police practices,” Choi said. “No reasonable officer—knowing, seeing, and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time—would have used deadly force under these circumstances.” Yanez’s discharge of his firearm also put Reynolds and her daughter at risk, Choi added. The officer will be charged with two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm as well.

The charging documents revealed new details about the incident: Through the driver’s side window, Yanez asked Castile for his driver’s license and insurance information. Castile provided Yanez with an insurance card and then informed Yanez that he was carrying a weapon. Yanez said “okay” and told Castile not to reach for it. Castile—apparently still reaching for something—responded, “I’m not reaching for it.” Yanez yelled, “Don’t pull it out!” Castile’s girlfriend assured Yanez that Castile wasn’t reaching for the gun. Yanez again ordered Castile not to pull his gun out, and seconds later, he fired seven shots. Castile died on the scene soon after.

Another document, made public by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, showed that Castile had a legal permit to carry a firearm.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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