Philando Castile family reaches $3M settlement in police shooting death

Family and friends of Valerie Castile and Philando Castile walked out of the courthouse after Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty on all counts in the shooting death of Philando Castile, Friday, June 16, 2017, in St. Paul, St. Paul, Minn. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last year, has reached a nearly $3 million settlement in his death, according to an announcement Monday by her attorneys and the Minneapolis suburb that employed the officer.

The settlement to be paid to Valerie Castile will avoid a federal wrongful death lawsuit stemming from Philando Castile’s death. The 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker was killed by St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop July 6 after Castile told the officer he was armed. Castile had a permit for his gun.

The shooting gained widespread attention after Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car with her then-4-year-old daughter, livestreamed its gruesome aftermath on Facebook.

In this image made from July 6, 2016, video captured by a camera in the squad car of St. Anthony Police officer Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer shoots at Philando Castile in the vehicle during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn. Yanez’s backup officer Joseph Kauser is seen standing on the passenger side of the vehicle. The video was made public by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, Tuesday, June 20, 2017, just days after the officer was acquitted on all counts in the case. (St. Anthony Police department via AP)

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 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.

Robert Bennett, an attorney for Valerie 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 toward healing, Bennett said.

Bennett said it also will allow Valerie Castile to do the work she plans through the Philando Castile Relief Foundation. A Facebook page for the nonprofit foundation says it was established to help victims of gun violence and to provide relief for the grieving.

During his trial, Yanez, 29, testified that 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, Castile said: “I’m not pulling it out” before Yanez fired seven rapid shots. Castile’s last words after the shooting were “I wasn’t reaching …”

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, later said Castile was reaching for his wallet.

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

After Yanez’s acquittal, the city of St. Anthony said it was offering Yanez 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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