Minnesota cop says he killed motorist for 'gun, not race'

Jul 11, 2016, 09:34 IST | Agencies

The police officer’s lawyer said the “presence of a gun” prompted the cop to shoot black motorist Philando Castile and it has “nothing to do with race”

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
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.

The matter
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.

Guv disagrees
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.”

Gunman trained at self-defence school
Micah Johnson, the Dallas gunman who killed five police officers at a protest march, had practiced military-style drills in his yard and trained at private self-defence school Academy of Combative Warrior Arts in the Dallas suburb of Richardson, which teaches special tactics, including “shooting on the move,” a maneuver in which an attacker fires and changes position before firing again.

Non-violent NY protests go on
Demonstrators marched peacefully in New York City for the third night to protest police abuses against black people. However, after five cops were shot dead on Thursday, many activists emphasised that they were against violence.

Prominent black activist arrested
Prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson live streamed his own arrest at a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as tensions rise between US police and racial minority groups. Witnesses said it was a violent arrest.

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