The police officer who killed Philando Castile, an African-American driver whose death was streamed live on Facebook, was charged on Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter.
Officer Jeronimo Yanez, fatally shot Castile, a 32-year-old cafeteria worker, during a random traffic stop in the Minnesota suburb of Falcon Heights in July this year.
Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who live-streamed the incident, and their four-year-old daughter were both in the car at the time of the shooting. Castile later died in hospital as a result of his injuries.
Paramedics found an unloaded .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun in his pocket, which Ramsey County attorney John J. Choi claims he had been attempting to disclose to Officer Yanez “calmly and in a nonthreatening manner.”
Choi says Yamez responded, “Don’t reach for it, then.”
“Castile tried to respond, but was interrupted by Officer Yanez, who said, ‘Don’t pull it out. Castile responded, ‘I’m not pulling it out.’”
He then claims that Yanez then “screamed, ‘Don’t pull it out'” and fired seven rounds from his gun.
“[Castile’s] dying words were in protest that he wasn’t reaching for his gun,” said Choi, while announcing charges on Wednesday.
“No reasonable officer – knowing, seeing and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time – would have used deadly force under these circumstances.”
However, Yamez – who is also charged with two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon – claimed via his lawyer in July that his actions “had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the presence of [Castile’s] gun.”
Castile’s death came less than a day after police officers shot and killed Louisiana man Alton Stirling, prompting a renewed surge of Black Lives Matter protests across the country.
Hundreds of people protested outside Minnesota governor Mark Dayton‘s house, demanding justice.
“This kind of behaviour is unacceptable,” Dayton told the crowd. “It is not the norm in Minnesota. I promise … to see that this matter is brought to justice and all avenues are pursued and do a complete investigation. Justice will be served in Minnesota.”
Yamez will appear in court on Friday.
Source: NY Times.