A Minnesota police officer who shot and killed a man during a traffic stop last July was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter on Friday. The jury also acquitted the St. Anthony police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, of two counts of intentional discharge of a firearm in the death of 32-year-old Philando Castile. Jurors reached their verdict following 29 hours of deliberation, after originally telling the judge that they were deadlocked on all charges.
Castile’s death made national headlines last summer after his girlfriend broadcast the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live. Yanez had pulled over Castile because he incorrectly suspected he may have been a robbery suspect. Castile was legally armed and informed the officer of that fact when he reached for his identification. Prosecutors argued that Yanez then hastily shot Castile after Castile reached for his identification. Attorneys for Yanez said the officer shot Castile after Yanez told him not to reach for his gun and Castile did so anyway.
Castile’s mother reportedly stormed out of the courtroom when the verdict was read. She slammed the verdict in comments to press outside the courthouse.
Castile’s shooting last July followed the shooting by police of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, earlier that same week. The men’s death touched off a new wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the nation. The day after Castile’s death, five police officers were shot at a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. The shooter, Micah Johnson, said he acted in retaliation for killings of black men by police officers, police officials said. Johnson was subsequently killed by police.