Judge joins mom in fight for every Black mother, every Black son

Judge Hatchett
Judge Hatchett (Paige Elliott/MSR News)

There currently are no new developments, legally speaking, in the Philando Castile shooting death, but Judge Glenda Hatchett said on Wednesday, July 13 that she will further monitor it to its conclusion.

“I will be looking closely” at the Castile case, said Hatchett in a MSR phone interview. She has been in town since July 9, and announced on Tuesday, July 12 that her Atlanta-based wrongful death law firm will represent Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, in all civil legal matters related to her son’s July 6 death reportedly by police in Falcon Heights after a traffic stop.

Hatchett and Valerie Castile appeared together at a July 12 press conference in St. Paul.

When asked how she got involved, Hatchett explained that Pastor David Kenton of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in North Minneapolis helped her connect with the Castile family.

“I received a call from Judge Hatchett,” said Keaton Wednesday in a MSR phone interview. “She said I was referred to her as someone who possibly could help her [get in touch] with the family. She really wanted to just be able to offer condolences and just let [Valerie Castile] know there is another legal mind at her disposal any time down the road.”

Hatchett admitted that she deeply wanted to be “on the front-line to make a difference. This is important to keep attention on this issue” of police-related shooting deaths, where 24 percent of such incidents that have occurred since January 1, 2015 have been Black.

A former judge, Hatchett noted that such shootings “are very hard” to prosecute. “I try to be [as] open and honest as I can be. Can I guarantee it will be different this time? No. But I can’t sit back and do nothing.”

Oft-asked for a timetable on when she plan to pursue legal action, “I am not going to rush to file,” answered Hatchett. She and Pastor Keaton both praised Valerie Castile’s demeanor during such trying times.

“I think she is remarkable,” said Hatchett. “She has all of this on her and she is able to still hold her head high and talk about justice for her son. I think that should be reported and commended. She is dealing with this with extraordinary courage and grace.”

“She is a phenomenal Black woman. She has a high level of patience and self-awareness,” added Keaton. “She is equipped not [only] to handle losing her son but she is [also] equipped to fight for every mother and every other Black male child. She is the face on how things will get changed.”

“I told her more than once that she is one of my she-roes now,” said Hatchett on Valerie Castile. “She is focused, gracious, strong and she is determined.”

Finally, Hatchett said she will be returning to Atlanta Thursday after Philando Castile’s funeral but told the MSR, “I will be coming back and forth between Atlanta and Minneapolis.”

“Judge Hatchett is the right lawyer at the right time at the right place,” concludes Keaton. “She is really a woman who cares about the family.”


Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.