Thousands gather at Capitol to protest Castile verdict

Former police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty Friday at Ramsey County Court in St. Paul.

Hundreds gather at the Capitol to show disagreement with not guilty verdict in Philando Castile case on Friday.

Easton Green

Hundreds gather at the Capitol to show disagreement with not guilty verdict in Philando Castile case on Friday.

by MN Daily Staff

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty Friday in Ramsey County Court for the fatal shooting of Philando Castile last year — prompting a rally on the State Capitol steps.

As of 9:00 p.m., nearly 1000 protesters marched west on University Avenue, away from the Capitol, and holding signs reading: “Philando still matters. Yanez still guilty” and “When will black lives matter?” Yanez, 29, shot Castile, 32, last July during a routine traffic stop. Castile’s death was live-streamed on Facebook, and gained national attention after a string of other high profile police shootings of black men.

“I’m incredibly disappointed with the jury’s verdict,” said Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, in a statement. “It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Yanez is a policeman.”

Ramsey County charged Yanez with one count of second degree manslaughter and two counts of recklessly discharging a firearm.

Those attending the protest said they were outraged at the verdict and heavily criticized the criminal justice system.

University of Minnesota student Aurin Chowdhury said she was disgusted with the verdict but not surprised.

“The same people keep paying this price. The system clearly isn’t working,” said Chowdhury, who is also president of Women for Political Change.

The rally was organized by Communities United Against Police Brutality and the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar.

“The community is deeply disappointed with the jury’s verdict in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez for the death of Philando Castile and endangerment of Diamond and Dae’Anna Reynolds,” a press release from the organizations said.

Mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds said at the rally, “We have a right to be sick and tired of being sick and tired … [Gov. Mark Dayton] said we would get justice. Where is our justice Gov. Dayton?”

Olivia Sharpe, a University junior attending the protest, said “I’m appalled to be a part of this system. I’m here because everyone needs to know what’s happening in this state.”

Yanez was fired by St. Anthony police, the City of St. Anthony said in a statement Friday afternoon.

“The public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city,” the statement said.

In a statement, Gov. Mark Dayton said “Mr. Castile’s death was a terrible tragedy … I believe that, working together, we can make the changes necessary to secure both safety and justice, in all of our communities, for all Minnesotans.”

This is breaking news, the Daily’s report will be updated as news develops.