The family of Philando Castile welcomed charges against Jeronimo Yanez, the Saint Anthony, Minnesota police officer who shot and killed the 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker during a broken tail light traffic stop earlier this year.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi charged Yanez with second-degree manslaughter on Wednesday after four months of impassioned protests against Castile’s death and police brutality throughout the community and the nation.
Larry Rogers, attorney for Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, appeared on Thursday’s edition of NewsOne Now to speak about the charges. “It was our hope that he [Yanez] would be charged with exactly what she [Reynolds] witnessed,” he said. “There was absolutely no provocation and there was no basis for him to fire at all at Philando.”
Taking into consideration the lack of indictments against police officers involved in deadly encounters, particularly in Minnesota, Rogers admitted, “It is hard for prosecutors to prove murder, so I have to give Prosecutor [John] Choi a great deal of credit…This is the first time in the history of Minnesota that they’ve ever charged an officer.”
Judge Glenda Hatchett, who represents the Castile family as counsel, told Roland Martin, “Prosecutor Choi, along with the special prosecutor Don Lewis and the entire team, took their time” preparing the case against Officer Yanez.
She recalled telling prosecutors, “I would rather it be thorough than fast…The Castile family agrees and supports this, as do I, and this is the first important step” in seeking justice for the slain 32-year-old.
Reynolds, who livestreamed her boyfriend’s death in real-time, told Martin she was “relieved that the prosecutor was even able to bring charges up against Officer Yanez … but they weren’t exactly what I wanted.”
Reynolds has faced hard times in the community following Castile’s death: “My life has been everything but normal, from me [not] being able to find a job in my local community, to being picked on and bullied and tormented by people in my community for blaming me for this happening,” she said.
“So even though people look at me as a strong woman and a courageous one, there are still people out there that blame me. So it’s very hard being me everyday in my skin in this world, when I’m constantly being attacked by my own people.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty