Tag Archive: diamond reynolds


philando-castile-mother.jpgThe city of St. Anthony, Minnesota will pay nearly $3 million to the family of Philando Castile to settle a wrongful death lawsuit, less than two weeks after officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted on manslaughter charges for killing Castile during a 2016 traffic stop.  Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker, was shot five times by Yanez during a traffic stop after Castile told the officer he was armed.

The settlement is to be paid to Castile’s mother Valerie Castile, who is the family’s trustee.  The $2.995 million settlement will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which holds the insurance policy for the city of St. Anthony. The plan for distribution of funds requires approval by a state court.

Attorney Robert Bennett, who is representing Valerie Castile, said a decision was made to move expeditiously rather than have the case drawn out in federal court, a process that would “exacerbate and reopen terrible wounds.” The settlement will also allow the family, the city and community to work toward healing, Bennett said.

The settlement will help benefit the Philando Castile Relief Foundation.  Bennett said the foundation’s mission is to provide financial support, grief counseling, scholarships and other help to individuals and families affected by gun violence and police violence.

The Philando Castile Relief Foundation hopes to continue to award an annual $5000 scholarship.  Through donations and part of the settlement, organizers hope to establish a permanent endowment to fund the annual $5,000 scholarship.  In May, 18-year-old Marques Watson was announced as the first recipient.

Watson intends to study mechanical engineering. He’ll take advantage of a tuition-free offer at St. Paul College this fall and hopes to complete his four-year degree at a historically black college or university.  Watson has participated in AVID, a school-based program that prepares underrepresented students for college, since seventh grade. He said he’ll be the first in his extended family to attend college.

Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who witnessed the shooting and posted video seconds after, is not part of the settlement. Reynolds has also hired an attorney, but it’s not clear if she is still planning a lawsuit or has any standing for a federal claim.

A claims manager with the League of Minnesota Cities, said St. Anthony’s insurance coverage is $3 million per occurrence. If Reynolds were to file and win a claim, the city’s remaining $5,000 in coverage would be paid to her and St. Anthony would have to cover any additional money awarded.

 

 

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After five days of deliberations, a jury has acquitted the Minnesota police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, of all charges in shooting death of Philando Castile.  Officer Yanez, an officer for the suburb of St. Anthony, had been charged with second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a firearm in the shooting.  Yanez and the 12 jurors were quickly led out of the courtroom after the verdict was announced.

In July 2016, Castile was pulled over for a broken tail light and was shot within 62 seconds of his encounter with Officer Yanez.  Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who was in the passenger seat, began Facebook livestreaming less than a minute after the shooting as her 4 year old daughter hid in the backseat and Castile slumped over dying.

Dash cam footage shows Officer Yanez approach the vehicle and exchange greetings with Castile and informing him of a brake light problem. He asks for Castile’s driver’s license and proof of insurance.  Castile who had a concealed carry license hands the officer his insurance card and says “Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me.” Officer Yanez replies, “Okay” and places his right hand on the holster of his gun and says “Okay, don’t reach for it.” Castile responds “I’m not pulling it out,” as Officer Yanez continues to yell “Don’t pull it out.”  Yanez pulled his gun and fired seven shots in the direction of Castile.  Reynolds yelled, “You just killed my boyfriend!”  Castile moaned and said, “I wasn’t reaching for it”, which were his last words.

Reynolds started live-streaming onto Facebook about 40 seconds after the last shot.  In a shaky voice she explains that the officer has just killed her boyfriend and that he was licensed to carry.  Yanez can be heard shouting “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand off of it.” Reynolds replies “He had, you told him to get his ID, sir, and his driver’s license. Oh my God. Please don’t tell me he’s dead.”

Officer Yanez’s recollection of the events was that Castile told him he had a gun at the same time he reached down between his right leg and the center console of the vehicle.  Yanez stated “He put his hand around something,” and said Castile’s hand took a C-shape, “like putting my hand up to the butt of the gun.”  Yanez said he then lost view of Castile’s hand.  “I know he had an object and it was dark,” he said. “And he was pulling it out with his right hand. And as he was pulling it out, a million things started going through my head. And I thought I was gonna die.”  Yanez said he thought Castile had the gun in his right hand and he had “no option” but to shoot.

Officials in St. Anthony, Minn., released a statement saying that Yanez will not return to the police department after the trial. They said they have decided “the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city.”  “The city intends to offer Officer Yanez a voluntary separation agreement to help him transition to another career other than being a St. Anthony officer.”

Shortly after the verdict was announced, several hundred protesters amassed around the steps of the state Capitol in St. Paul.  Police said about 500 activists later moved to Interstate 94, one of the main highways in the Twin Cities area. A few dozen people briefly moved onto the road itself while facing police in riot gear, but most of the protesters soon dispersed.

Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez has been charged with second-degree manslaughter for killing  Philando Castile during a traffic stop in July 2016. Castile’s death was live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, in an extraordinary video in which she narrated the aftermath of the shooting while she was still in the car just minutes after the shooting.  The officer was still pointing a gun at her and her four-year-old daughter as her boyfriend lay dying next to her.

Officer Yanez has also been charged with felony charges of endangering the safety of Reynolds and her daughter. It’s the first time in at least 30 years that a police officer in Minnesota has faced charges for killing someone while on duty, and comes after nationwide demonstrations protesting Castile’s killing.

The Minnesota prosecutor who filed the charges detailed the deadly July 6th encounter between Castile and officer Jeronimo Yanez.  An excerpt from the criminal complaint read:

Officer Yanez asked Castile to produce his driver’s license and proof of insurance. Castile first provided him with his insurance card.  Castile then, calmly, and in a non-threatening manner, informed Officer Yanez: “Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me.”

Before Castile completed the sentence, Officer Yanez interrupted and calmly replied: “OK,” and placed his right hand on the holster of his own, holstered, gun.  Officer Yanez then said: “OK, 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,” and Reynolds also responded by saying: “He’s not pulling it out.”  Then Officer Yanez screamed, “Don’t pull it out!” and quickly pulled his own gun with his right hand while he reached inside the driver’s side window with his left hand.

Officer Yanez then pulled his left arm out of the car, and then fired seven shots in rapid succession into the vehicle.  The seventh and final shot was fired at 9:06 and two seconds p.m.  After the final shot, Reynolds frantically yelled: “You just killed my boyfriend!”

Philando Castile moaned and uttered his final words: “I wasn’t reaching for it.”  To which Reynolds loudly said: “He wasn’t reaching for it.”  Before Reynolds completed her sentence, Officer Yanez again screamed: “Don’t pull it out!”  Reynolds responded by saying: “He wasn’t.”

The shooting’s aftermath was broadcast on Facebook Live by Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, where it quickly spread across social media and cable news, making it one of the most high-profile fatal police shootings during the protests that have occurred across the country in recent years.  Castile was a well-liked cafeteria manager at a local school.

John Choi, the Ramsey County attorney, said at a news conference in St. Paul, Minn. “No reasonable officer knowing, seeing and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time would have used deadly force under these circumstances,” “I have given Officer Yanez every benefit of the doubt on his use of deadly force, but I cannot allow the death of a motorist who was lawfully carrying a firearm under these facts and circumstances to go unaccounted for.”  Yanez, who said he feared for his life at the time of the shooting, could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $40,000 in fines

Two fatal police shootings in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota have spurred widespread protests across the country.  According to police sources, 37 year old Alton Sterling was selling CDs early Tuesday outside the Triple S Food Mart in Baton Rouge, when a homeless man approached him and asked for money.  The man was persistent, leading to Sterling showing him his gun and saying “I told you to leave me alone.”

The homeless man called 911 and reported a man with a gun which lead to Officers  Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II responding to the call.  A graphic cell phone video of the shooting was shared widely on social media shortly after the incident, quickly sparking local protests and drawing national attention.

The video taken by a bystander shows the officers struggling with Sterling before bringing him to the ground.  They continue to struggle with Sterling while one officer is sitting on his legs, the camera pans left and shots can be heard.  When the camera pans back, Sterling is on his back with shots to his chest.  A second officer appears to remove a gun from Sterling’s front pocket as he lay dying.  Vigils and memorials have spread across the country in reaction to the deadly shooting.  Local civic leaders and Sterling’s loved ones have promised to find out what happened. Sterling left behind a 15 year old son.

The second fatal shooting happened in Minnesota just a day later when Philando Castile and his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds were pulled over for a broken taillight.  The video, which starts just moments after Castile is shot, was livestreamed by Reynolds to her Facebook page.

In the video, Reynolds explains that her boyfriend told the officer he was armed and had a concealed carry permit.  As she speaks, Castile appears slumped between the front seats, dazed and looking upward.  Reynolds describes the situation .  Though you can’t see Officer Jeronimo Yanez’s face, you can hear the agitation in his voice as he tells Reynolds to keep her hands visible.  Reynolds remains composed as she replies, “I will, sir, no worries. I will.”

The officer still sounds distressed as he explains, “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand off it.”  Moments later, Reynolds pleads with God and then the officer as she realizes Castile won’t make it.  “Please don’t tell me this, Lord. Please, Jesus, don’t tell me that he’s gone,” she said. “Please, officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”

Reynolds and her  4 year old daughter who was in the backseat and were unharmed.  Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who fatally shot Castile and Officer Joseph Kauser were put on leave which is standard after a fatal shooting.  Philando Castile, 32, was a school nutrition services supervisor who was popular among his colleagues and students, according to his employer.  Many parents of the children Castile served protested while others told news crews that he was wonderful with the kids, remembering dietary restrictions for all his students.

Both videos went viral, sparking protests across the country.  Protesters gathered overnight near the scene of the Alton Sterling shooting chanting “No Justice, No Peace” and “Prosecute the Police.”