Wednesday 23 August 2017

Family reach settlement over police shooting of black driver Philando Castile

Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, has reached a settlement over his death (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)
Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, has reached a settlement over his death (Renee Jones Schneider/Star Tribune via AP)

The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a settlement worth nearly three million US dollars (£2.4 million) over his death.

The settlement to be paid to Valerie Castile, who is the trustee for her family in the case, will avoid a federal wrongful death lawsuit stemming from Mr Castile's death.

The 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker was killed by St Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop on July 6 after he told the officer he was armed.

Mr Castile had a permit for his gun.

The shooting gained widespread attention after Mr Castile's girlfriend, who was in the car with her then four-year-old daughter, live-streamed its gruesome aftermath on Facebook.

Mr Yanez, who is Latino, was acquitted of manslaughter and other charges earlier this month.

The jury's decision prompted days of protests, including one in St Paul that shut down Interstate 94 for hours and ended with 18 arrests.

The 2.995 million dollar settlement will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which holds the insurance policy for the city of St Anthony.

It requires approval by a state court, which could take several weeks.

The statement from the city and Ms Castile's attorneys says no taxpayer money will be used to fund the settlement.

Robert Bennett, who along with attorney Glenda Hatchett is representing Ms Castile, said the idea behind the settlement was to move expeditiously rather than have the case drawn out in federal court, a process that would "exacerbate and reopen terrible wounds".

The settlement will also allow the family, the city and community to work towards healing, Mr Bennett said.

"No amount of money could ever replace Philando," the joint statement said.

"With resolution of the claims the family will continue to deal with their loss through the important work of the Philando Castile Relief Foundation."

A Facebook page for the non-profit foundation says it was established to help victims of gun violence and to provide relief for the grieving.

During his trial, Mr Yanez, 29, testified that Mr Castile ignored his commands not to pull out his gun.

The officer said he feared for his life.

According to squad-car video that captured the shooting, Mr Castile said "I'm not pulling it out" before Mr Yanez fired seven rapid shots.

Mr Castile's last words after the shooting were "I wasn't reaching...".

His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, later said he was reaching for his wallet.

The squad-car video shows the shooting, but does not show what happened inside the car or what Mr Yanez saw, leaving room for reasonable doubt.

After Mr Yanez's acquittal, the city of St Anthony said it was offering him a "voluntary separation agreement" from the police department, and he would no longer be an on-duty officer.

The department serves the cities of St Anthony, Lauderdale and Falcon Heights, where the shooting occurred.

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