Despite video evidence of the event, a Minnesota jury found Twin Cities officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty on all counts in the death of Philando Castile. Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter after the July 2016 shooting of the 32-year-old Castile.
Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds captured the event on Facebook Live from the passenger seat of their car while their young daughter watched in horror from the back seat.
Castile didn’t break a single law and was cooperating with officers when he was shot. Officer Yanez claims he saw Castile’s reach for his gun before firing, despite Castile having a legal permit and informing the officer that he was armed, which can be heard clearly in the video.
“Damn, what is it going to take?” asked Castile’s mother Valerie Castile following the court’s decision. “The system continues to fail black people.”
“This was supposed to be the last time that America sees something like this,” Castile’s uncle Tracy Castile added, “over the last couple years: Eric Garner, Michael Brown. All these killing and all these killers are going free?”
This acquittal comes as part of a long series of officers being cleared of charges in the death of African Americans throughout the country. Many activists on the left have become frustrated that the justice system grants police immunity, while at the same time locking up low level non-violent offenders to serve lengthy prison terms.
The hashtag #PhilandoCastile quickly began trending on Twitter, as angry users expressed their anger. Some were shocked by the decisions, others said it was exactly what they expected.
“#PhilandoCastile was killed Bc he was black. #PhilandoCastile’s murderer was found not guilty Bc Philando was black,” wrote former South Carolina Representative Bakari Sellers on Twitter.
Civil rights activist Deray Mckesson pointed to the fact that out of 1,155 people killed by police in 2016, an officer was charge in just 13 cases, resulting in 0 convictions in 2016.
The clearing of officer Jeronimo Yanez is likely to further inflame racial tensions in the country, which some argue are already as bad as they were during the Civil Rights movement.
Philando’s uncle is calling on the Department of Justice to take up the case.
“We would like to see if this could go to a federal court. Even though this went the wrong way we can still look for justice,” Tracy Castile said.
It seems unlikely that Trump’s Department of Justice would take such a case. Just last month, the DOJ announced they would not bring federal charges against the police officers who killed Alton Sterling.