Officer Jeronimo Yanez — the Minnesota cop who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop earlier this year — has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced Wednesday.
Choi concluded that Yanez’s use of force on the unarmed Black man “was not justified.”
The disgraced officer shot and killed Castile during a traffic stop on July 6 after pulling the victim and his girlfriend over for a busted taillight. The bloody aftermath of the incident was caught on camera and broadcast via Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend, who said that Castile was in the process of showing the officer his concealed carry permit when he was killed.
The graphic video showing a bloody Castile slowly dying in the passenger’s seat and Yanez with his gun still drawn set off a serious of intense (and sometimes violent) protests across the nation denouncing police brutality. The incident also highlighted longstanding tensions between police and communities of color.
According to the Minnesota StarTribune, Choi’s office had been reviewing evidence in the deadly shooting since Sept. 28, when the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension handed over its findings to him. The attorney decided to file the criminal charges himself rather than hand the case over for a grand jury to decide.
Reviewing audio and video evidence from the police dash cam, Choi concluded that the ill-fated encounter wasn’t enough for Yanez “… to express subjective fear of death or great bodily harm.” He added that Castile had fully complied with the traffic stop from the start.
“Philando Castile was not resisting or fleeing,” Choi said at a press conference. “He had no criminal intent; he was respectful and compliant; he volunteered in good faith that he had a firearm” and provided more information than the law required.”
The attorney said Castile’s final words to the officer were, “I wasn’t reaching for it,” in reference to the gun he told Yanez he was carrying beforehand.
News of Yanez’s manslaughter charge quickly spread, with many expressing relief that a cop was finally being held accountable for unjustifiable actions.
Manslaughter charges for #PhilandoCastile cop seem well-measured – no overreach. We must have accountability, or we're a society of animals.
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) November 16, 2016
In step towards accountability, prosecutors found killing of #PhilandoCastile not justified, & brought charges of 2nd-degree manslaughter.
— ACLU National (@ACLU) November 16, 2016
#PhilandoCastile also proof that social progress is working
— Kaije (@KaijeMusic) November 16, 2016
— Evangeline ⚜ (@esonnierrose) November 16, 2016
Still, many others felt the manslaughter charge just wasn’t enough.
Why these people not being charged with murder? They getting off either way man #PhilandoCastile
— Henny Hendrix ? (@hi_imRico) November 16, 2016
— fuck fascism (@lulurosebea) November 16, 2016
— I AM KING MANSA MUSA (@WhatItDo314Fam) November 16, 2016
*This story will continue to be updated.