Nearly a year ago, Philando Castile was murdered by St. Anthony Minnesota Police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop. Yanez stopped Castile because he claimed his wide-nose made him a possible suspect in a recent store robbery in the area.
Castile informed Yanez during the stop that he was legally carrying a handgun in his pocket when the officer asked him for identification. As Castile began to retrieve his identification, he told Yanez he was reaching for his ID and not his weapon. However, Yanez pulled his weapon and shot Castile four times in front of his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and her young daughter. The aftermath of the encounter was live-streamed on Facebook and the last moments of a bleeding and gasping Castile were recorded for all the world to see, as the officer then tries to excuse his behavior and is heard cursing and yelling, “I told him not to reach for it!” The entire encounter lasted barely more than a minute.
Yanez was later charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of endangering safety by firing his gun near Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her daughter. His trial starts this week and as usual for a cop killing an innocent Black man, he claimed that he was in fear for his life when he killed Castile. His attorneys also plan to introduce forensic evidence that Castile had traces of marijuana in his system and did not comply with Yanez’s orders because he was high.
The murder of Philando Castile was part of a long string of deadly police shootings that claimed the lives of Black men. In the vast majority of these incidents, officers claimed that they were in fear of their lives when they killed a suspect. Most recently, Tulsa Police Officer Betty Jo Shelby was acquitted in the killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man, using the same excuse.