Officer who shot Philando Castile charged with 2nd-degree manslaughter

On Wednesday, the police officer who shot Philando Castile was charged with second-degree manslaughter. The 32-year-old black Minnesota man was killed during a traffic stop, and the Facebook live video his girlfriend took of the aftermath immediately caught the media and Black Lives Matter activists’ attention. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced, “It is my conclusion that the use of deadly force by Officer [Jeronimo] Yanez was not justified and that sufficient facts exist to prove this to be true.”

Along with second-degree manslaughter, Yanez was charged with two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. According to The Star Tribune, no police officer had been charged in the more than 150 police-involved deaths in Minnesota since 2000, and Cho chose to make the decision rather than put it in the hands of a grand jury after receiving the case from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, claimed he told the officer he had a permit to carry a gun and was shot while reaching for his ID. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension interviewed Yanez the day after the shooting, and the officer said after Castile told him he had a gun, Castile blocked the view of his right hand with his shoulder while he was reaching down. Yanez claims he was scared for his life.

Castile’s death sparked weeks-long protests in the area and added to Black Lives Matter’s list of police shootings of black men fueling its fight to end police brutality. Of course, Yanez could be found not guilty, as has continuously happened in recent police shooting trials, but the charges brought against him at least show that Castile’s death is being investigated.