Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced Wednesday, November 16, that second-degree manslaughter charges will be filed against St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting death of Philando Castile.
Castile was shot by Yanez during a traffic stop July 6. The moments after he was shot were streamed live on Facebook by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds and shared on social media, setting off protests and unrest locally and across the nation.
“Based upon our thorough and exhaustive review of the facts of this case, it is my conclusion that the use of deadly force by Officer Yanez was not justified and that sufficient facts exist to prove this to be true,” Choi announced.
“Accordingly, we filed a criminal complaint this morning in Ramsey County District Court charging Officer Yanez with Second Degree Manslaughter in the death of Philando Castile, and two felony counts of Dangerous Discharge of a Firearm that endangered the safety of Diamond Reynolds and her four-year-old daughter, the two passengers in the car.”
When receiving the findings of the BCA’s investigation in July, the county attorney’s office pledged to do a thorough review to determine “what justice requires in this case.” Choi circled back to that theme during today’s press conference, stating that his conscience wouldn’t allow him to ask a Grand Jury to make a decision he knew in his heart “needs to be done.”
“I know my decision will be difficult for some in our community to accept. But, in order to achieve justice, we must be willing to do the right thing — no matter how hard it may seem,” Choi said.
At issue was whether the officer’s subjective belief that deadly force was necessary, was objectively reasonable and justified. “Unreasonable fear cannot justify the use of deadly force. The use of deadly force must be objectively reasonable and necessary, given the totality of the circumstances,” said Choi.
“Based upon our thorough and exhaustive review of the facts of this case, it is my conclusion that the use of deadly force by Officer Yanez was not justified and that sufficient facts exist to prove this to be true.”
Judge Glenda Hatchett, whose law firm is representing the Castile family on all civil matters, held a press conference at Gaskins Bennett Birrell Schupp LLP in downtown Minneapolis to give remarks regarding the Ramsey County Attorney’s decision.
“We [the Castile family and the Hatchett Law Firm] see this as a stake in the ground,” said Hatchett, surrounded by members of the Castile family. “We are intending for this case to send a loud message that things must change in this country. And I do believe with all my heart that this case has the potential of being a landmark decision that could have benefits for not only Minnesota but throughout the nation — because remember, the nation is watching.”
In light of today’s decision, a celebration/vigil for Philando Castile is set to take place at J.J. Hill Elementary at 6 pm where Castile worked as a food service manager.
Officer Yanez will make his first appearance in criminal court Friday afternoon at 1:30 pm at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center.
Go here to read Ramsey County Attorney John Choi’s statement in its entirety.
The MSR will continue to follow this story with more news and community reaction as the story develops.