-- One year after a Minnesota cop shot Philando Castile to death, for which the officer was acquitted on a manslaughter charge last month, the state’s governor recommended today that a new law enforcement training fund be named in Castile's memory and his mother urged people to “treat each other better."
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton issued a letter to the Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Board requesting that a new law enforcement training fund (a $12 million investment approved by the state legislature this year) be named the "Philando Castile Law Enforcement Training Fund."
Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, said at the announcement today, "We need this ... extra training for our police officers because, at the end of the day, everyone wants to go home. The police want to go home and the civilian wants to go home."
"If we can combine our minds and work together as human beings, then that will happen. We need to learn how to communicate with one another," she said, urging more training and an improved dialogue. "We're not evolving. ... We’re worse off than some animals."
St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Castile, 32, several times on July 6, 2016, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul. Castile had told Yanez he had a firearm, according to The Associated Press, and video shows Yanez telling Castile not to reach for it.
When Castile started saying he wasn't reaching for it, the officer interrupted, saying, "Don't pull it out," the AP reported. Castile was replying, "I'm not pulling it out" as Yanez fired, the AP said.
Yanez was arrested and prosecutors said the officer did not see the gun and acted unreasonably; the defense argued that Yanez saw Castile's hand on the gun, which he had a permit to carry, the AP said.
Yanez, who no longer works for the police department, was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter last month.
While Valerie Castile said "today marks the first year without my son," she added that this is "not about my son anymore ... it’s about the next generation of children ... they need to be protected."
Philando Castile's uncle, Clarence Castile, who was appointed to the POST Board, said the training aims to include reasonable force standards, de-escalation training, community policing and an increase of diversity on the workforce.
Gov. Dayton, who called Castile's death one of the most traumatic events during his over six years as governor, said in a statement, "I believe it is imperative that the leaders in our state's ever-more-diverse communities and in their law enforcement organizations commit – or recommit – themselves to making changes together that will lead toward better relationships among law enforcement officers and members of those communities."
“My hope is that the fund will provide training in the best practices to improve law enforcement's relationships with people in all Minnesota communities, and will also create partnerships, in which community and law enforcement leaders are together designing and delivering that training,” Dayton added.