The acquittal of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez—the cop responsible for fatally shooting 32-year-old Philando Castile during a traffic stop in July 2016—sparked outrage among Castile’s loved ones and supporters in the fight for justice, reports the Huffington Post.
A jury found Yanez not guilty of charges that included second-degree manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm. After news spread about the verdict, Castile’s loved ones expressed deep disappointment and disapproval of the case’s outcome.
“My boyfriend, Philando Castile, was pulled over because, per officer Yanez, he had a wide nose and looked like a suspect,” said Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, who livestreamed his death on Facebook, according to the outlet. “It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Yanez is a policeman. God help America.”
Castile’s mother Valerie said that the verdict illustrates a flawed justice system that “continues to fail black people and will continue to fail us,” according to The Post.
Several organizations that are leading the fight for racial justice released statements denouncing the jury’s decision:
“Driving while Black is a crime punishable by death in America. That’s exactly what the jurors in the trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez have decided today by issuing their not guilty verdict,” said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color Of Change, in a statement released by the organization. “District Attorneys around the country, from Tulsa to Cleveland to now St. Paul, must be held accountable for their failures to secure justice for victims of police violence. In doing so they not only fail the integrity of our legal system—they fail to value Black lives.”
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund released this statement:
“We are profoundly disappointed by the jury’s verdict, which once again highlights how difficult it is to prosecute an officer for killing a person they were sworn to protect and serve. Officer Yanez joins a long and still growing list of police officers who have killed people of color with impunity.”
The outrage didn’t stop there. The verdict prompted a swift reaction from people on social media.
The Huffington Post reported that St. Anthony terminated Yanez from the police department.
According to CNN, the verdict sparked a massive protest in St. Paul where nearly 2,000 people marched through the streets.