Washington: The Minnesota police officer, whose fatal shooting of a black driver last week prompted nationwide protests against racial prejudice, reacted to the man’s gun, not his race, his lawyer has said.
A cop patrols during a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in New York yesterday. Pic/AFP
Jeronimo Yanez, a police officer in St. Anthony, a Minneapolis suburb, “was reacting to the presence of a gun” when he shot Philando Castile, Minneapolis attorney Thomas Kelly told The New York Times.
Although Kelly provided the fullest account so far of Yanez’s version of the shooting on Wednesday, many details remain unclear.
Yanez, who is Latino, is on leave while the state authorities are investigating the shooting. “The shooting had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the presence of that gun,” Kelly said. Castile “was not following the directions of the police officer,” he added, declining to provide more details, he said.
There was “more than the reason for the equipment violation” to stop Castile’s car, Kelly said, without specifying other reasons.
Castile (32) was shot on Wednesday after he was pulled over in Falcon Heights, near Minneapolis, for a broken tail light. Amplifying the horror was the video live-streamed in the shooting’s aftermath by the slain man’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, as she sat in the passenger seat. Her four-year-old daughter was sitting in the back seat.
Castile was shot after informing the officer that he had a gun and a permit to carry, and then reaching for his wallet, according to Reynolds. He was the second black man in two days fatally shot by US police. They are the latest in a string of similar cases that have fueled outrage across the US.
Governor Mark Dayton, who met with protesters and black leaders, has expressed sympathy for the Castile family and concerns about the role of race in the shooting, infuriating some in law enforcement. “Would this have happened if those passengers were white?” he said Thursday. “I don’t think it would’ve.”
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