I can’t. Azzin, I actually can’t. I am unable to can. Over and over again, the United States tells Black people that they will never be equal. Black people never get justice, they are never compensated, it is never their day in court, unless of course, they’re the ones in the dock. Philando Castile was shot at point blank range, in front of his partner and her child. It was all recorded; the whole world saw it. And yet, the irresponsible trigger-happy killer-cop is walking away from it all. He will sleep in the arms of his wife and be hugged by his family tonight. The family of Philanco Castile will visit a grave site. And you can’t tell me that is either right or just.
According to The New York Times, on Friday, a jury here acquitted the Minnesota police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, of all charges in shooting, which happened in July 2016 and left Mr. Castile dead, raising the national debate over police conduct toward black people. Officer Yanez, an officer for the suburb of St. Anthony, had been charged with second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a firearm in the shooting.
The verdict was announced in a tense courtroom here late Friday afternoon, after five days of deliberations, and the officer was led quickly out of the courtroom, as were the 12 jurors. Mr. Castile’s family, which had nervously watched the proceedings from the front row, abruptly left as well.
“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?”
She continued, “The system in this country continues to fail black people and will continue to fail us.”
The case against Officer Yanez — believed to be the first time in Minnesota history that an officer was charged in an on-duty fatal shooting — hinged on one central question: Did the officer have reason to fear that Mr. Castile was reaching for a gun that he had acknowledged having with him when he was pulled over by the officer?
Officer Yanez testified that he feared Mr. Castile was grabbing for the gun, but Mr. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, said he had merely been reaching for his identification to give the officer.
Though there was dashboard camera video of the events, as well as the live-stream video that Ms. Reynolds began taking after the shooting, there was no video clearly revealing the crucial moments in the front seat of Mr. Castile’s car — and how precisely he had moved his hands before the officer fired.
The shooting set off large marches across the twin cities and, at one point, blocked off a major highway. It drew notice from President Barack Obama, as well as the governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, who asked aloud: “Would this have happened if the driver were white, if the passengers were white?”
On Friday, as news of the acquittal filtered out, a small group of protesters gathered outside the courthouse, expressing anger and dismay. “It’s not us that were on trial, it was the system that was on trial,” said Mel Reeves, a community activist.
You can slice it or dice it, but a gross injustice has been carried out against Philando Castile…as it has against a million Black people.
Rest in peace, Philando Castile. You’re free from a system that never cared about you. I am so so sorry.
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