Minnesota Police Officer Charged With 2nd-Degree Manslaughter in Philando Castile's Death

Officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Philando Castile in July.

November 16, 2016, 3:16 PM

— -- Prosecutors in Minnesota today charged St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Philando Castile, a black man Yanez fatally shot during a traffic stop in July.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, who received the case from investigators in late September, also announced two additional felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon that endangered the safety of the other two passengers in the car, Castile's girlfriend and her young daughter.

"Based upon our thorough and exhaustive review of the facts of this case, it is my conclusion that the use of deadly force by Officer Yanez was not justified and that sufficient facts exist to prove this to be true," Choi said at a press conference today.

Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, said the family is "pleased" with the decision to charge Yanez. Judge Glenda Hatchett, who is representing Castile's family in all civil matters, called the move to charge Yanez an "historic decision" in an "historic time."

"We see this [as] historic for the benefit that it has for this community, but we also see it as an important signal to this nation because of the series of shootings that we have seen across this nation," Hatchett said.

Yanez shot and killed Castile, 32, an elementary school cafeteria worker, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul, on July 6. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the shooting’s aftermath on Facebook. Reynolds’ video led to days of protest in front of Yanez’s precinct.

The dramatic video shows Reynolds — sitting in a car with Castile, whose shirt appears soaked in blood — saying an officer shot her boyfriend. She explains in the video that the officer "asked him for license and registration."

"He told him that it was in his wallet but he had a pistol on him because he is licensed to carry," she says. "The officer said, 'Don't move.' As he was putting his hands back up, the officer shot him in the arm four or five times."

The video shows a uniformed police officer holding a pistol on the couple from outside the car. The officer can be heard saying, "I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hand out."

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the incident.

Although Castile had a legally permitted handgun with him and told the officer that, Choi said he concluded that Castile "never attempted to reach for his gun" and that "there simply was no objective threat" posed to the officer. Choi also said that "no reasonable officer knowing, hearing and seeing what Officer Yanez did would have used deadly force."

Choi noted that Castille's last words were that he was not reaching for the gun.

In a statement obtained by ABC News after the shooting in July, Yanez’s attorney, Thomas Kelly, said the incident had nothing to do with race.

"Officer Yanez has been completely cooperative with the investigation led by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. He is deeply saddened for the family and loved ones of Philando Castile," Kelly said. "Tragically, the use of force became necessary in reacting to the actions of Mr. Castile. This heartbreaking incident had nothing to do with race. It had to do with the presence of a gun."

Castile's family members, however, said he was the target of racial profiling.

Yanez was placed on administrative leave again in August after briefly returning to limited duty. The city of St. Anthony decided to change the officer's status "after reviewing concerns and other feedback from the community," city officials said in a statement at the time. It was unclear then whether Yanez would still be paid while on administrative leave.

Yanez’s status with the St. Anthony Police Department will be reviewed after the state’s investigation into the incident is complete.

Kelly did not immediately comment on today's announcement.

ABC News' Andrew Fies and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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