On Wednesday morning, it was announced that the police officer who murdered motorist and lawful gun-carryer Philando Castile will be charged with Second Degree Manslaughter.
St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez has been charged with Second Degree Manslaughter, and though he has been summoned to a court hearing on Friday, a warrant has not been issued for his arrest.
In a press conference held on Wednesday morning, Ramsey County’s Attorney John Choi explained the moments leading up to Castile’s death in graphic detail before declaring that based on the evidence, there was no legitimate justification for Castile’s death.
“I would submit that no reasonable officer, knowing, seeing, and hearing what officer Yanez did at the time would have used deadly force under these circumstances.”
Yanez, who executed Castile with 7 rapid-fire gun shots in July after the man told the officer that he had a concealed weapon. Castile’s girlfriend was a passenger in the vehicle and posted the aftermath of the shooting in a Facebook live video streamed online. Due to this unique view, national attention was drawn to the shooting and national interest has no doubt driven this close investigation.
Choi vouched for the conduct of Castile saying that in all counts, he was an innocent motorist doing his due dilligence.
“I cannot allow the death of a motorist who was lawfully carrying a firearm under these circumstances to go unaccounted for. [Philando Castile] had absolutely no criminal intent . . . and was respectful and compliant.”
“[Castile] volunteered in good faith that he had a firearm, beyond what the law requires. He emphatically stated he was not pulling it out. His movement was restricted by his own seat belt, and he was accompanied in his vehicle by a woman and a child.”
Choi went on to say that Castile’s dying words were “in protest that he wasn’t reaching for his gun.”
Finally, Choi concluded that Castile’s ownership and posession of a gun in no way justified his death. Despite what many victim blamers will say about other instances of police-instigated gun violence, “the mere mention or presence of a firearm alone cannot justify the use of deadly force.”
Though many will be unhappy that the officer is receiving a manslaughter charge rather than a murder charge, the attorney argued that it was chosen because it is the “highest, most provable charge, beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In a nation which is often blind to police brutality, we can be thankful that this most blatant example is being pursued. May the family of Castile find peace and justice.