It was the Fourth of July weekend in 2016, and while most people all over the United States were busy basking in celebrations for America and enjoying good times, the residents of one suburban Minnesota town were being rattled by a crime like no other.
Before long, the story of what happened that night was making headlines nationwide and Americans everywhere were outraged by the apparent misdeeds of local police officers…
Philando Castile was born July 16, 1983 in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in the St. Paul Minnesota area. When he was older, Castile went to the well-known Saint Paul Central High School. After high school graduation in 2001, Philando decided to stick around and start working for the Saint Paul Public School District.
It would be a smart career move and a good place to start, as he was a man who cared about education in his community. Philando began as a nutrition services assistant at Chelsea Heights Elementary School in 2002 and later moved to nearby Arlington High School. He was a hard worker and his employers took notice, promoting him all the way to nutrition services supervisor at J. J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, in August 2014…
Philando lived a pretty normal life, working at the school and living with his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter when their lives changed forever. On the night of July 6, 2016, Philando and Diamond took their little girl to do some grocery shopping and were returning home in their car without a care in the world.
Suddenly, Philando and Diamond could see two police officers conducting a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, which was a small suburb of St. Paul. The couple thought they knew what was coming because this sadly wasn’t the first time they’d been pulled over by the police for no reason…
Used To This
In fact, Philando had been stopped by Minnesota police at least 52 times for minor traffic infractions over the years and was used to being racially-profiled by the cops. However, he would soon learn that this time would be very different than in the past.
Little did Philando and Diamond know that nearby, a St. Anthony police patrolman was on Larpenteur Avenue radioing into a nearby squad that he planned on pulling over their car and checking their IDs. “The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery,” the officer said…
“The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just because of the wide-set nose. I couldn’t get a good look at the passenger,” he continued. Around 9:04 p.m., he said he would wait for the driver to stop and pull him over before stopping Castile’s white 1997 Oldsmobile a minute later.
St. Anthony police officers Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser, were two longtime partners and friends who graduated from the Minnesota State University, Mankato police academy in 2010. According to investigators, Yanez approached the car from the driver’s side, while his partner approached it from the passenger side…
What happens next can be recounted on the officers’ dashcam video in a shocking 40-second clip. Officer Yanez approached Castile on the driver’s side and asked for his driver’s license and proof of insurance, as would happen in any routine traffic stop.
Although the officers believed he was just involved in a robbery, Castile had spent the night getting a haircut, eating dinner with his sister, and picking up Diamond and her daughter in St. Paul, before going food shopping. Officer Yanez could then be seen glancing at Castile’s outer pocket…
According to the report, Castile told Yanez, “Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me,” but before he could finish the sentence the officer stopped him and said, “OK.” Yanez grabbed for his own holster and said, “Okay, don’t reach for it, then … don’t pull it out.” Castile responded, “I’m not pulling it out,” and Reynolds also said, “He’s not pulling it out,” but Yanez repeated himself, “Don’t pull it out!, raising his voice.
“Don’t Pull It Out!”
Yanez then quickly pulled his own gun with his right hand and reached inside the driver’s window with his left. Diamond Reynolds screamed, out “No!” as the officer fired seven shots in the direction of Castile in rapid succession…
“You just killed my boyfriend!”, Reynolds said as Castile moaned out, “I wasn’t reaching for it.” Reynolds screamed again, “He wasn’t reaching for it.” But before she finished speaking Officer Yanez again screamed, “Don’t pull it out!” to which Reynolds responded, “He wasn’t.” Yanez then yelled out “Don’t move! Fuck!” when he realized what had just happened.
Of the seven shots fired, Castile was hit five times at point-blank range, two of which pierced his heart. Diamond Reynolds then started recording what happened right after the shooting, sharing on Facebook live Castile, who was slumped over, moaning and moving slightly, with a bloodied left arm and side…
Reynolds then recorded a conversation with Yanez, explaining what happened. Reynolds said on video that Yanez “asked him for license and registration. He told him that it was in his wallet, but he had a pistol on him because he’s licensed to carry.” Castile did, in fact, have a license to carry a gun. Reynolds told the officer, “You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.”
“Please don’t tell me he’s dead,” Reynolds cried out while Yanez exclaims: “I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand open!” Reynolds could then be heard getting handcuffed by officers, while her phone falls onto the ground and continues to record an officer “Fuck!”. Meanwhile, her 4-year-old could be heard from the squad car saying, “Mom, please stop cussing and screaming ’cause I don’t want you to get shooted.”
In just three hours, nearly 200 people showed up to protest and mourn Castile’s untimely death and by the following afternoon, the video had been viewed nearly 2.5 million times on Facebook. Thousands of protests and vigils continued around the country in the weeks that followed and over 200 arrests were made due to mass public outcry over the events. Castile’s horrific death became one of the focal points in the growing Black Lives Matter movement.
On November 16, 2016, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced that Yanez was being charged with: one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. “I would submit that no reasonable officer knowing, seeing, and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time would have used deadly force under these circumstances,” Choi said.
However, just seven months later, Yanez was acquitted of all charges on June 16, 2017, the same day that the City of Saint Anthony offered Officer Yanez a voluntary separation agreement. Many Americans, especially Philando’s mother, Valerie Castile, feel as if the traffic stop would have gone much differently if her son was a different race. The system continues to fail black people,” Valerie Castile said. “Y’all are next. And you’ll be standing up here fighting for justice just as well as I am. I am so disappointed in the state of Minnesota.”
“My son loved this state,” Valerie Castile said after her son’s tragic killing. “He had one tattoo on his body, and it was of the Twin Cities… My son loved this city, and this city killed my son, and the murderer gets away! Are you kidding me right now? We’re not evolving as a civilization; we’re devolving. We have taken steps forward, people have died for us to have these rights, and no we’re devolving. We’re going back to 1969. Damn! What is it going to take?!