Another police shooting acquittal worries black gun owners

People in November 2016 gather at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School where Philando Castile worked in St. Paul Minn. after charges were filed against St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez

People in November 2016 gather at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School where Philando Castile worked in St. Paul Minn. after charges were filed against St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez

Tiffani Nielson said in a news release Saturday that officers began arresting protesters at 12:30 a.m. after issuing three warnings for them to get off of Interstate 94 in St. Paul. We felt all along his conduct was justified.

For Philando's sister, Allysza Castile, there was disbelief that the jury could hear the conflicting testimony of Officer Yanez, take 29 hours for deliberation, and still reach a verdict of not guilty. "I know that if he could, he would take back what he did, and we all wish, and he would too, that this never happened", Choi said.

Questioned by his defense attorney during the trial, Yanez said: "I was scared to death". Others include, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., Eric Garner, who was held in a chokehold by police, and died in NY and Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager, who was shot by an officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Castile's fatal shooting was among several cases around the US a year ago where law enforcement officers were found to have killed blacks.

Protests in the wake of the shooting put another spotlight on the systemic violence faced by black men and women at the hands of police, and watchdog and human rights groups reacted to the verdict by urging an overhaul to police standards for the use of lethal force.

Blocking highways as a form of protest is a common tactic in Minnesota.

The jury opted for acquittal, clearing Yanez of manslaughter Friday after five days of deliberation that almost ended in deadlock.

In reaction to the verdict, Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton offered his condolences to the Castile family, calling his death "a awful tragedy" in a statement that made no mention of Yanez.

Juror Dennis Ploussard says most jurors voted for acquittal early on. Dayton, a Democrat, drew criticism in the days after the shooting for suggesting that Castile might not have been shot if he was white. Two holdouts eventually agreed after five days. Prosecutors questioned whether Yanez had even seen it, and witnesses testified that it was in a pocket of Castile's shorts when paramedics pulled him from the auto.

Ploussard wouldn't identify the two holdouts, but said they were not the jury's only two black members.

Protesters held signs, banners, sang and chanted in response to the not guilty verdict in the case of Yanez, a former St. Anthony Police officer, who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last July.

The evidence included squad vehicle video, but its wide view didn't capture exactly what happened inside the auto _ leaving jurors to essentially decide whether they believed Yanez when he said Castile had his hand on the gun.

Prosecutors in St. Paul, Minnesota, said recordings from the auto - both from Reynolds' phone and from a dashboard camera - showed that Castile was courteous and non-threatening, and they told the court there was no justification for Yanez' action. But no video existed of what happened inside the auto before he was shot.

Yanez had initially singled out Castile for a traffic stop because the officer thought he bared a resemblance to a robbery suspect. Prosecutors questioned whether Yanez had even seen Castile's gun, and witnesses testified that it was in a pocket of Castile's shorts when paramedics pulled him from the auto.

Yanez, who is Latino, was charged with second-degree manslaughter. Castile appears to give something to Yanez through the driver's side window. Prosecutors say Castile's last words were: "I wasn't reaching for it".

Yanez proceeded to tell him not to reach for it, to which Castile replied that he wasn't.

Castile volunteered that he was legally carrying a gun. Castile's girlfirend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the auto at the time and began live-streaming the event in the moments after the shots were fired.

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