It took less than 40 seconds for a mundane conversation about a broken taillight to turn deadly.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has released police dashcam footage of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile mere days after a jury acquitted Officer Jeronimo Yanez of all charges. Jurors viewed the video several times during Yanez’s manslaughter trial but few people had ever seen the footage outside of the courtroom. The shooting made national headlines after Castille’s fiance, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the bloody aftermath on Facebook. According to Reynolds, Castille told the officer he had a firearm he was licensed to carry. The officer shot him as he reached into his pocket for his wallet and identification.
The nearly 10-minute video shows Yanez pulling over Castile at dusk on July 6, 2016. Yanez exits his police cruiser, approaches the white 1997 Oldsmobile, and leans in to speak through the driver’s window. He informs Castile that his taillight is broken and asks for proof of insurance and a driver’s license. Castile responds politely, handing him the insurance card. Castile, who had a gun permit, tells Yanez that he has a firearm in the vehicle.
CASTILE: Sir, I have to tell you I do have a…
CASTILE: …firearm on me.
CASTILE: I… [inaudible]
YANEZ: Don’t reach for it then.
CASTILE: I’m, I, I was reaching for…
YANEZ: Don’t pull it out.
CASTILE: I’m not pulling it out.
REYNOLDS: He’s not.
YANEZ: Don’t pull it out.
[Yanez, who kept his hand near his gun, fires seven shots into the car.]
REYNOLDS: You just killed my boyfriend!
CASTILE: I wasn’t reaching…
REYNOLDS: He wasn’t reaching.
YANEZ: Don’t pull it out!
REYNOLDS: He wasn’t.
YANEZ: Don’t move!
[Yanez proceeds to yell expletives and breathe heavily. Reynolds’ 4-year old daughter exits the car and is picked up by the other officer. Reynolds begins to calmly share a live video on Facebook. She is told to exit the car and walk backward to an officer. Officers remove Castile from the car and treat him. Officers later interview Yanez, who appears shaken and yells expletives repeatedly.]
YANEZ: I told him, ‘Can I see your license?’ And then he told me he had a firearm. I told him not to reach for it. And when he went down to grab, I told him not to reach for it. And then he kept it right there, and I told him to take his hand off of it. And then he, he had his grip a lot wider than a wallet.
YANEZ: And I don’t know where the gun was, he didn’t tell me where the [expletive] gun was.
YANEZ: And then it was just, getting hinky, he gave, he was just staring straight ahead and I was getting [expletive] nervous and then, I told him, I know, I know, [expletive] I told him to get his [expletive] hand off his gun.
[Yanez continues to explain the situation to the supervising officer.]
Prosecutors portrayed Yanez during his trial as a nervous officer who lost control at a routine traffic stop based on the suspicion that Castile was a robbery suspect. Yanez, then a St. Anthony officer, testified Castile was pulling the gun out of his pocket. Ramsey County prosecutors noted that Castile’s fully loaded gun was found in the pocket of his shorts. Joseph Kauser, the officer who arrived to provide backup and can be seen standing on the right side of Castile’s car in the video, testified that he never saw a gun inside the car and that he didn’t hear most of the conversation between Yanez and Castile. He said Castile appeared calm and relaxed. Kauser said he was surprised when Yanez began shooting into the car.
“I did not feel threatened at that point from where I was standing,” Kauser said of the moment right before the shooting.
Reynolds maintains that Castile reached for his driver’s license and registration. She said she reached for her phone and began recording the aftermath because she feared Yanez might also hurt her or her daughter, and that she wanted evidence if he did.
“I know that people are not protected against the police,” she said.
Protesters have marched in the St. Paul area since the verdict. Many took to social media to express their outrage.
The legal lynching of #PhilandoCastile. Video just released today.
An abomination. This officer is a murderer. Philando obeyed the law. pic.twitter.com/JNXA1XTlVk
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) June 20, 2017
— Erin Fors (@forsie) June 21, 2017
Dropped my 14 year old off at camp and was talking to him about #PhilandoCastile — God I just want him to stay alive.
— Garnerstyle (@GarnerStyle) June 21, 2017
— KimberlyDewayn (@KimDSummons) June 21, 2017
Reynolds herself spoke at a community meeting at the Neighborhood House and the Wellstone Center in St. Paul this week––the third since Yanez’s acquittal.
“It’s very unfortunate that an innocent man’s life was taken away not only in front of myself but in front of my child,” she said. “It’s very unfortunate that when things happen in our community, our higher powers––police, judges, whoever––they assassinate our characters and make us look like the bad ones.”