On July 6, 2016, a black man named Philando Castile was fatally shot by a reckless police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, in the city of St. Anthony, Minnesota.
Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, was driving with his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and their 4-year-old daughter, when Yanez pulled them over.
According to Minnesota Public Radio, just 74 seconds after Yanez activated his squad lights he fired the last of seven shots into the car of Yanez, killing him in the presence of his girlfriend and daughter.
In November, Yanez was charged with one count of felony second-degree manslaughter in Castile’s death. Prosecutors later added two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon to endanger Castile’s girlfriend and their daughter. Yanez pleaded not guilty to all charges.
A jury was constituted to hear and determine the fate of Yanez. The jury sat five times, and on Friday June 16, declared that Yanez is not guilty of any charges leveled against him.
After the ruling was announced, many people in the city expressed their dissatisfaction. People started calling for street protests, and by the evening the city came to a standstill. Many people were on the street protesting over the ruling.
— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) June 17, 2017
Hundreds of protesters gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol holding signs that included the phrases “black lives matter,” and “no justice, no peace.” Some marched toward the Saint Paul Cathedral to register their displeasure about the ruling with the church.
The protest continued deep into the night. Some of the protesters furiously stormed highway Interstate 94 and blocked traffic for more than an hour. The state patrol even threatened to arrest protesters occupying the road.
“The system continues to fail black people, and it will continue to fail you all,” Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother, told reporters after the verdict. “My son loved this city and this city killed my son and the murderer gets away. … I’m mad as hell right now.”
Castile’s sister Allysza, weeping, said, “He didn’t deserve to die the way he did, and I will never have faith in this system.” Castile’s family lawyer, Glenda Hatchett said they would appeal the ruling.
— Doualy Xaykaothao (@DoualyX) June 17, 2017
There were similar protests across the city when the appalling shooting happened in 2016. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton described the incident and its aftermath as “absolutely appalling at all levels.”
Many people across the U.S. became appalled by the shooting after Castile’s girlfriend live-streamed the immediate aftermath of the incident on Facebook, showing her boyfriend dying.
During the trial, the jurors requested for Reynolds’ video, as well as dashcam video from Yanez’s patrol vehicle. Commentators have said those videos were crucial pieces of evidence, showing that Yanez acted recklessly and unprofessional after he stopped Castile.
Between 2015 and 2016, policing in the U.S. came under close public scrutiny. Some officers unleashed pure terror on the very people they are supposed to protect. The disgusting actions of these officers led to the loss of many innocent lives, mostly black people. This led to the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement across the U.S.