The city of St. Anthony, MN has agreed to pay a settlement of $2.995 million to the family of Philando Castile. Mr. Castile was shot and killed in July 2016 by a police officer employed by the city. The officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted in June 2017 on criminal charges that included manslaughter. Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando, receives the settlement as the family’s trustee.
The original shooting and subsequent trial of officer Yanez made national headlines and sparked protests. Mr. Castile, who was African-American, was in his car with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter when he was pulled over by the officer for a broken taillight. According to Castile’s girlfriend, the officer shot him five time despite Mr. Castile cooperating and informing the officer that he was armed. The shooting was captured on a dash camera in the police car, and the aftermath was recorded by Mr. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds.
Officer Yanez claimed in court that he believed Mr. Castile fit the description of a man wanted for robbery, and that Mr. Castile was not listening to commands and reached for his gun. Prosecutors argued that Mr. Castile was trying to put the officer at ease by telling him he was armed, and Ms. Reynolds told the court that Mr. Castile was reaching for his driver’s license at the officer’s request. The jury believed Officer Yanez, and his acquittal sparked protests that included shutting down a Minnesota highway.
The $2.955 million settlement will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, allowing the city to avoid a potential lawsuit from Mr. Castile’s family. His girlfriend Ms. Reynolds, does not receive part of the settlement, which leaves the door open for her to make her own claim. Because the city’s claim limit is $3 million per incident, if Ms. Reynolds wins a suit the insurance company would pay out only the remaining $5,000. The city of St. Anthony would be liable for the remainder of any settlement or court judgment. The city has undertaken a voluntary review of its police department’s interactions with the public through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the Department of Justice.