Sunday, 10 July 2016

Shooting of Philando Castile

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was fatally shot by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer, after being pulled over in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul. Castile was driving a car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter when he was pulled over by Yanez and another officer. According to Reynolds, Castile was stopped for a broken rear light, and after being asked for his license and registration, told the officer he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and had one in the car. Reynolds stated: "The officer said don't move. As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times."

Diamond Reynolds live-streamed a video on Facebook in the immediate aftermath of the shooting. It shows her interacting with the armed officer as a mortally injured Castile lay slumped over, moaning slightly and bleeding from his left arm and side. Reynolds said that officers had failed to check Castile for a pulse or to render first aid, and instead comforted the crying officer who fired the shots. Reynolds stated that Castile received no medical attention until paramedics arrived more than ten minutes after the shooting. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office ruled Castile's death a homicide and said he had sustained multiple gunshot wounds. The office reported that Castile died at 9:37 p.m. CDT in the emergency room of the Hennepin County Medical Center, about 20 minutes after being shot.

Reynolds, who was detained with Castile during the shooting around 9:00 p.m. CDT, was taken into custody and interrogated at a police station then released the following morning around 5:00 a.m.

The day after the fatal shooting, the St. Anthony Police Department identified the officer who fired the fatal shots as Yanez. He and his partner Kauser were placed on paid administrative leave.

The day after the fatal shooting, Mona Dohman, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, declined to say whether Castile had a concealed carry permit. State officials said that Minnesota law barred them from saying whether Castile had a permit.

Two days following the shooting, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi called for a "prompt and thorough" investigation into the shooting. He said that he had not determined whether he would use a grand jury, but stated that if either a grand jury or prosecutors in his office determined that charges were appropriate, he would "prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the law." Choi also stated, "We need to come together as a community, law enforcement included, to improve our practices and procedures so we don't experience any more of these tragedies ever again."

On July 9, Yanez' attorney, Thomas Kelly of Minneapolis, said his client "reacted to the presence of that gun and the display of that gun," and stated: "This had nothing to do with race. This had everything to do with the presence of a gun."

By 12:30 a.m. on July 7, about three hours after the shooting, protestors gathered at the scene, "peaceful but visibly angry." More than 200 people were present. After news of Castile's death spread, crowds of protestors gathered outside the Minnesota Governor's Residence in St. Paul, chanting Castile's name and demanding that Governor Mark Dayton make a statement. That night demonstrations in St. Paul continued, remaining "peaceful but forceful."

Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, said that her group would request a federal investigation. She also called for an independent body to investigate the shooting, expressing skepticism with the state agency that is leading the investigation of the incident, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, a division of the Department of Public Safety. NAACP president Cornell William Brooks said, "I'm waiting to hear the human outcry from Second Amendment defenders over (this incident)..." Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson said: "Philando Castile should be alive today."

On July 10, 50 protesters were arrested in St. Paul after scuffles broke out between protesters and police, which left at least five police officers injured. Three people were arrested at a Chicago protest.

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