Minnesota Cop Who Killed Philando Castile Is Charged With Second-Degree Manslaughter

“No reasonable officer…would have used deadly force under these circumstances.”

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced the charges on Wednesday.David Joles/AP

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The suburban police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a Minnesota traffic stop is being charged with second-degree manslaughter, John Choi, Ramsey County’s top prosecutor, announced on Wednesday.

Castile, 32, was shot by officer Jeronimo Yanez last July. According to Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was also in the car along with the couple’s young daughter, the officer fired his weapon as Castile reached to get his ID, after Castile informed Yanez he had a (legally permitted) gun. Reynolds live streamed the aftermath on Facebook, and her video sparked weeks of protests in Minneapolis and nationwide.

The shooting “was not necessary, was objectively unreasonable, and was inconsistent with generally accepted police practices.”

Officer Yanez’s use of deadly force “was not necessary, was objectively unreasonable, and was inconsistent with generally accepted police practices,” Choi said. “No reasonable officer—knowing, seeing, and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time—would have used deadly force under these circumstances.” Yanez’s discharge of his firearm also put Reynolds and her daughter at risk, Choi added. The officer will be charged with two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm as well.

The charging documents revealed new details about the incident: Through the driver’s side window, Yanez asked Castile for his driver’s license and insurance information. Castile provided Yanez with an insurance card and then informed Yanez that he was carrying a weapon. Yanez said “okay” and told Castile not to reach for it. Castile—apparently still reaching for something—responded, “I’m not reaching for it.” Yanez yelled, “Don’t pull it out!” Castile’s girlfriend assured Yanez that Castile wasn’t reaching for the gun. Yanez again ordered Castile not to pull his gun out, and seconds later, he fired seven shots. Castile died on the scene soon after.

Another document, made public by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department, showed that Castile had a legal permit to carry a firearm.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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