Listen: 20170616_DBF: Yanez recap (Mumford)

All Things Considered’s Tom Crann provides a recap of the murder trial verdict of Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a St. Paul suburb.

Segment includes various reactions and commentary of verdict, followed by a summary conversation with MPR’s Tracy Mumford.


2017 MBJA Eric Sevareid Award, award of merit in Spot News - Large Market Radio category


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TOM CRANN: Just hours ago outside the Ramsey County Courthouse.

VALERIE CASTILE: My son loved this city, and this city killed my son, and the murderer gets away.

TOM CRANN: Valerie castile, the mother of Philando Castile, expressing anger and sadness at the news today. That news Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who killed her son, is not guilty of manslaughter or weapons charges. That's what a jury found this afternoon. Not guilty on all three counts from the shooting of Castile last July after he was pulled over for a traffic violation. Ramsey County Attorney John Choi expressed disappointment over the not-guilty verdict for Yanez.

JOHN CHOI: He went beyond what the law requires. He was compliant. He wasn't resisting. And at the end of the day, this was a traffic stop. Unfortunately, the jury didn't see it that way. And another thing that we were fighting for as a part of this particular case was, we were fighting for the integrity of this process.

TOM CRANN: But Choi urged members of the public to accept it. Choi also said he has no doubt Yanez is a decent person, but that he made a horrible mistake. Nevertheless, Choi said, the jury's decision must be respected. The city of St. Anthony police released a statement reading that Yanez would no longer be a member of the police force and that the terms of a voluntary separation agreement will be negotiated in the near future. One of the attorneys who represented Yanez called his trial a fair one, speaking shortly after the not-guilty verdict was announced. Attorney Tom Kelly said Yanez was relieved and says the defense team was very confident all the way along.

TOM KELLY: We're very satisfied with the verdict. We never lost confidence in Officer Yanez. We felt his conduct was justified from the beginning, but it's a tragedy all the way around.

TOM CRANN: John Lozoya. Public Information Officer for the Minnesota Chapter of the National Latino Police Officers Association, says the legal system played through.

JOHN LAZOYA: Well, I believe that the reaction is relief because I don't think you can say celebrate or be happy about someone's life being lost, two families thrown into chaos. But relief is our feeling.

TOM CRANN: Dozens of onlookers gathered at the courthouse soon after the verdict. Lisa Stone of Saint Paul says she rushed to the Ramsey County Courthouse as soon as she heard a verdict was reached. She watched as Valerie Castile, philando's mother, spoke.

LISA STONE: I feel so bad for this lady. She lost her son, her only son to a cop, the people were supposed to trust with our lives. They were supposed to have our back.

TOM CRANN: Here's more of what Valerie Castile said earlier today after the verdict was announced.

VALERIE CASTILE: Are you kidding me right now? We're not evolving as a civilization. We're devolving. We have taken steps forward. People have died for us to have these rights. And now we're devolving. We're going back down to 1969. Damn, what is it going to take I'm mad as hell right now. Yes, I am. My first born one son died here in Minnesota. Under the circumstances, just because he was a police officer, that makes it OK. Oh now they got free reign. He's found innocent on all counts. He shot into a car with no regard to human life, and that's OK. Thank you, Minnesota. Thank you, Minnesota. That's all I have to say.

TOM CRANN: That's Valerie castile, the mother of Philando Castile, speaking today after the verdict of not guilty on all three counts was reached by the jury in Ramsey County court. She was speaking outside just moments after that verdict. 6:11, Tracey Mumford joins me as producer of our 74 Seconds podcast, which has been looking into this case and working with our reporters who have been following the case in the courtroom over the last two weeks and more. She joins me now with more on the case this afternoon. Tracey, good afternoon-- or good evening now.

TRACY MUMFORD: Good evening, Tom.

TOM CRANN: What were the central arguments in this case? Remind us.

TRACY MUMFORD: So again, the shooting of Philando Castile, it took place on July 6, 2016. Officer Yanez pulled Philando Castile over for a non-working brake light, and because he said, "Castile's wide set nose," and that is a direct quote, resembled that of an armed robbery suspect. He asked Philando Castile for license and insurance.

Philando Castile said, sir, I have to tell you, I have a firearm on me. And this is where the narratives start to diverge here at Diamond Reynolds, who was a witness for the prosecution, said at this point, Castile was reaching for his belt so he could access his wallet. Yanez said on the stand that he saw Philando Castile's gun. He said he feared for his life, that Castile was reaching for his gun and he had no other choice than to fire. He did fire seven times.

So Philando Castile's gun really became a central issue in this case, where it was? Did he reach for it? And we did hear some conflicting testimony on that during the case. Ultimately, the prosecutors argued that Castile was not reaching for his weapon and Yanez was unreasonable in shooting Philando Castile.

The defense, however, said that he was reasonable and that the jury this afternoon, they found Yanez not guilty on all three charges, which was manslaughter and weapons charges, which referred to endangering Diamond Reynolds and her then four-year-old daughter, who will also in the car during the shooting.

TOM CRANN: So when it comes to the jurors, what do we know about them? And have we heard from any of them this afternoon?

TOM KELLY: So the jury was-- it was seven men and five women. Race is not a question on the juror questionnaire. So what we just from what the reporters could tell from the courtroom is that 10 jurors appeared white and there were two African-American jurors. After court, let out the jurors were escorted to their car, and many of them did not make a comment, walked away silently.

The Associated Press actually was able to reach one of the jurors who said that they were split 10, 2 in favor of acquittal during deliberation. We heard on Wednesday that they were at an impasse, and it was split 10, 2. It was not split along racial lines as something else that we heard from the Associated Press who was able to talk to one of the jurors for this case.

TOM CRANN: So what is next tonight? What do we know about any potential demonstrations or protests of this verdict. A demonstration is planned at 7:00 PM at the State Capitol. People-- they've been stopping by the shooting scene in Falcon Heights throughout the day. But there's not a crowd gathering there. It's mostly been quiet, and people just coming through a lot of tears in Falcon Heights.

TRACY MUMFORD: A more formal demonstration is planned at the State Capitol that looks like the sensual reaction at this moment. We also know that Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman is planning to hold a series of facilitated community conversations, one tonight happening now, another tomorrow, and another on Monday evening. So those are some of the reactions that we're seeing, those organized reactions to the verdict.

TOM CRANN: There certainly were reactions and demonstrations after the incident last year and after Philando castile's death, including some outside the governor's mansion for a few days. The governor himself, Mark Dayton, made a statement after the verdict today. What did he say.?

TRACY MUMFORD: So the governor, you're right, the protests took place outside his mansion, and he actually made a statement last summer suggesting that this shooting may not have happened if Philando Castile had been white. So when the verdict came down, he issued a new statement. He called Castile's death a terrible tragedy. His statement did not mention Yanez, and it did note that there are thousands of police officers who are, quote, "working to correct the injustices in our state." So that's all that we heard from the governor, is through that statement. His mansion was the site of much of the protests last summer.

TOM CRANN: We also had news this afternoon about Jeronimo Yanez and his future. It will not be with the St Anthony police department, we learned, right?

TRACY MUMFORD: That's right. So shortly after the verdict was read today, the city of St. Anthony said it has concluded that Yanez should no longer be part of the department. They said they expect to offer Yanez a voluntary separation agreement with the terms still to be negotiated. So no, officer Yanez will not return to active duty in Saint Anthony.

TOM CRANN: Tracy Mumford doing great work with the 74 seconds podcast on this case and today on the air with your team, which includes the reporters, Riham Feshir, John Collins, Tim Nelson, were all there covering it today. Thank you.


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