On Friday, June 16, Minnesota police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted on the charges of manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Does his name sound vaguely familiar to you? It should.
The world openly watched Officer Yanez shoot and kill 32-year-old school cafeteria supervisor, Philando Castile, in his car on Facebook Live in front of his girlfriend, Diamond Reynold, and her four-year-old daughter on July 6 last year. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it below. If you have seen already, watch it again (at your own discretion).
They have tried and will continue to try to remove this evidence from the internet. They want you to forget what happened. Remember this moment. Remember every detail. The erasure of the Black body is not the meaning of Black magic. Do not let the image of this man dying leave your thoughts.
DISCLAIMER: The following media contains sensitive and graphic content. Viewer discretion is advised.
Here’s what happened according to various sources:
Officer Yanez pulled Philando Castile’s car over during a traffic stop for a broken tail light.
Officer Yanez claims Castile resembled a suspect in a recent, unrelated robbery (which was later proven false).
Officer Yanez ordered Castile to retrieve his license and registration.
Before reaching for his paperwork, Castile respectfully informed the officer that he had a pistol on him with a license to carry.
Castile proceeded to follow orders and retrieve his paperwork from his back pocket.
Officer Yanez ordered Castile to not pull out his gun.
Castile motioned to put his empty hands up in defense.
Officer Yanez opened fire and shot Castile in the arms.
Officer Yanez fired seven shots at Castile, five of which hit his target (two of them tore through his heart).
Diamond Reynold, Philando’s girlfriend, opened a stream to record this incident live on Facebook.
Here is the transcription of the Facebook video.
Albert Goines, a Minneapolis attorney that had worked with Castile’s family stated, “Either (Castile) was a robbery suspect and (Yanez) didn’t follow the procedures for a felony stop, or (Castile) was not a robbery suspect and (Yanez) shot a man because he stood at his window getting his information,”
In court, Officer Yanez was portrayed as a nervous man who lost control of the traffic stop and feared for his life. Yanez’s lawyer argued that Castile had clouded judgment due to smoking marijuana earlier that day. The prosecution argued that Philando Castile had no felony record and was reaching for his requested paperwork, not the gun which he was shot for. Forensics supported this claim at the Associated Press report:
Prosecutor Jeff Paulsen highlighted autopsy evidence in his closing argument, reminding the jury of a bullet wound to what would have been Castile’s trigger finger — and that there was no corresponding bullet damage nor wounds in the area of Castile’s right shorts pocket, where he carried his gun. He also cited testimony from first responders who saw Castile’s gun in his pocket as he was loaded onto a backboard.
The jurors assigned to this case were made up of eight men and four women. Of these jurors, there were only one black man and one black woman. They collectively listened to various testimonies, one of which Officer Yanez testified that he “didn’t want to shoot Mr. Castile.”
The jurors then made a list of requests to view and re-view specific bits of evidence.
While the jurors were granted access to both Diamond Reynold Facebook video and Officer Yanez’s squad car video, the judge denied their request (because defense attorneys did not agree) of access to transcriptions of the squad car audio and Yanez’s statement to state investigators a day after the shooting. The jurors deliberated for a total of 27 hours. The trial came to an end when Officer Yanez found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter, reckless discharge of a firearm and endangering the passengers (Diamond and her daughter).
According to The Washington Post’s database collection, Philando Castile was one of the 963 individuals that were shot and killed by the police in 2016. Of these, 222 were black men. It is important to note that Philando Castile was shot and killed a day after Alton Sterling was shot, killed and also recorded for the world to witness. With the ability to now record and stream videos, several officers around the nation are being exposed by bystanders for their heinous actions. Officials where Officer Yanez worked
With the ability to now record and stream videos, several officers around the nation are being exposed by bystanders for their heinous actions. Officials where Officer Yanez worked stated that, although found not guilty, the “public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city.” In other words, he will not be returning to the police department post-trial.
Soon after the verdict, Philando Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, spoke publicly stating the following:
Unfortunately, even with these recordings, officers are being found innocent and let free to live their lives normally. Philando Castile did nothing but comply with an officer and still had his life taken from him. This case is one of many cases that have left the nation in an outcry for justice. This case reminds us that white supremacy is more than an individual disliking the color of someone’s skin. White supremacy is deeply embedded in our nation. White supremacy is a systematic oppression that creates and pardons implicit bias. Philando Castile’s blood will forever be on Officer Yanez’s hands. We were all witnesses to this. This is something a jury can never erase.
Even then, the result of this case is like adding salt to injury to all Black families watching. We cannot watch as silent witnesses to a cycle of Black bodies dying in the hands of police. Thousands of individuals have taken the streets in protest of not only this verdict but the entire judicial system.
Muslim Girl stands with Castile’s family and wants to remind the world that Black lives have always and will continue to forever matter.