Protests have broken out after the police officer accused of second-degree manslaughter relating to the death of Philando Castile was cleared on Friday of all charges.
His final moments after being shot four times by police officer Jeronimo Yanez while in his car went viral when his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, filmed the immediate aftermath and posted it on Facebook Live.
According to her, Castile’s car had been pulled over by police officers for having a broken tail light. One of the cops then allegedly asked for Castile’s license, before proceeding to shoot him four times as he was reaching for it.
Throughout the video, Reynolds moves the camera over to Castile, who is covered in blood and clearly losing consciousness.
The incident was made particularly tragic by the fact that Reynolds' young daughter was in the car at the time of the shooting. Trying to console her mother as Castile died, she said: “It’s okay, mommy. It’s okay. I’m right here with you.”
Reynolds released a statement following the verdict. It read: “I am incredibly disappointed with the jury’s verdict (...) It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Yanez is a policeman. God help America.”
The defence had argued that Castile was pulling his gun out of his pocket despite commands not to do so and that he was high on marijuana, affecting his actions.
Castile, a 32-year-old cafeteria worker who lived in Minnesota, was killed just one day after the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling in Louisiana on July 6 2016, and his death helped to spur on a range of Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer.
Thousands of people took to the streets again yesterday evening, carrying signs reading “Unite for Philando”, “Corrupt systems only corrupt” and "Black Lives Matter".
There is a trend of acquittals for police officers in cases of the shooting of black men which some commentators say points towards wider corruption in the US criminal justice system.
Yanez has lost his job at the police department in St Anthony, Minnesota.
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