MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - The attorney representing St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez in the shooting of Philando Castile says “race did not play a part in the use of deadly force at all.” Attorney Tom Kelly says it was the presence of a gun and the actions of Castile that led to the deadly shooting.
“Officer Yanez was reacting to the actions of the driver,” Kelly said in a phone conversation with Fox 9’s Paul Blume. “This incident had nothing to do with race. It had everything to do with the presence of a gun. Race did not play a part in the use of deadly force at all. It was the presence of a gun.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension identified Yanez as the officer who fatally shot Castile, and Officer Joseph Kauser as the other officer involved in the July 6 traffic stop in Falcon Heights. Both officers are four-year veterans of the St. Anthony Police Department and both were put on paid administrative leave.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton immediately requested a Justice Department investigation into the shooting and said he believes race was a factor in the shooting.
“Would this have happened if the driver and passenger were white?” Gov. Dayton asked in a news conference the morning after the shooting. “I don’t think it would have.”
“The governor did not have all the information when he was called upon to make the remarks,” Kelly said. “He only had a very limited perspective on this. In my opinion, and in the opinion of others, this use of deadly force would have occurred regardless of the race of the driver.”
Some media and blog reports are comparing surveillance images of a recent convenience store robbery to images of Philando Castile, suggesting the officers stopped Castile as a possible suspect. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook, saying he was “shot for no reason” after a traffic stop for a broken tail light.
“I can’t comment on that,” Kelly said. “But I can tell you that the stop of the vehicle for an equipment violation was not the only reason for the stop.”
Reynolds also states that Castile had a permit to carry a firearm, and that he informed Officer Yanez he had such a permit before reaching for his wallet.
“(Castile) had a permit to carry a gun,” Kelly said. “The officer did not know that at the time of the shooting, and he did not know with any certainty whether the gun was present with a permit or not a permit. Regardless of whether it was permitted or not, the actions of Mr. Castile and his failure to comply with directions from Officer Yanez was what led to this.”
According to the BCA: “At approximately 9:05 p.m. Wednesday, the two St. Anthony police officers conducted a traffic stop near the intersection of Larpenteur Avenue West and Fry Street in Falcon Heights. Castile was the driver of that vehicle. Officer Yanez approached the vehicle from the driver’s side and Officer Kauser from the passenger side. At one point during the interaction, Officer Yanez discharged his weapon, striking Castile multiple times. No one else was injured. A gun was recovered at the scene.”
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Timeline of Philando Castile shooting
JULY 7, 10 AM - Governor: 'Justice will be served in Minnesota'
JULY 7, 9:50 PM - Police officers identified in fatal shooting of Philando Castile
JULY 8, 10:30 AM - Prosecutor considering grand jury in Philando Castile shooting