Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled Castile’s car over in Falcon Heights, a suburb near Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the officer later said he thought Castile matched the description of a suspect in a robbery. The stop quickly escalated.
In a statement Friday, the St. Paul Public Schools system said they continued “to remember and mourn the loss of ‘Mr. Phil,” calling him a beloved employee.
“My son loved this city, and this city killed my son,” Mr. Castile’s mother, Valerie, said as she stood on a corner outside the courthouse afterward. “And a murderer gets away. Are you kidding me right now?”
Most of those 29 officers who were found guilty on any count were convicted of a lesser offense, he said. Five of the 29 officers found guilty on at least one count were convicted of murder. Including Yanez, 33 officers were not convicted; Yanez is the 17th officer acquitted after a jury trial. Another 20 criminal cases are still pending, Stinson said.
An audio recording captured Castile telling Yanez he had a gun in the car, and the officer telling Castile not to reach for it. Seconds later, Yanez opened fire.
After five days and more than 25 hours of deliberation, the jury decided that the state had not met its burden for a conviction. Yanez would have faced up to 10 years under Minnesota law if he had been convicted. The jury that determined Yanez’s fate consisted of seven men and five women. Two jurors were black. Following the acquittal, a jury member told the press that the specific wording of the law regarding culpable negligence was the main factor among many leading to the verdict.
John J. Choi, the prosecutor who announced the charges against Officer Yanez, said on Friday that “this verdict brings a lot of hurt and pain and deep-seated frustration for a lot of people in this community.” Mr. Choi said he was disappointed in the verdict, and believed that Mr. Castile “did nothing that justified the taking of his life.”
Prosecutors also charged Yanez with endangering the lives of Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who was also riding in the car. On Friday, Reynolds said she was “incredibly disappointed” with the verdict, saying that Castile cooperated and was stopped only because “he had a wide nose and looked like a suspect” to Yanez.
Castile was one of 963 people who police officers fatally shot last year, according to a Washington Post database tracking such shootings. The fatal encounter in Minnesota was among the most high-profile last year because Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, broadcast the moments after Castile’s shooting online, graphic footage that quickly circulated and drew international attention to the Twin Cities suburbs.
Police said about 500 protesters had gathered on the interstate late Friday, closing it to traffic. The Minnesota State Patrol said demonstrators would be arrested if they did not leave the interstate, and early Saturday, the agency said 18 protesters had been arrested.
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Mr. Gray, the defense lawyer, said Officer Yanez had to react quickly to what he believed was an imminent threat. He said Officer Yanez smelled marijuana, believed that Mr. Castile matched the description of a recent robbery suspect and saw him grabbing a gun.
Yanez was the first officer in Minnesota charged for an on-duty shooting since at least 2005, according to Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, who studies arrests of officers and has kept data since that year. The Star Tribune newspaper reported that Yanez is believed to be the first officer charged with killing a civilian in the state’s modern history.