By Gina Cherelus
(Reuters) – The family of Philando Castile, a black motorist shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota last year, reached a $3 million settlement with the city of St. Anthony, city officials and family lawyers said Monday.
The agreement between the Minnesota city and Valerie Castile, the victim’s mother, comes a week after the officer who shot Castile, 32, five times was found not guilty of any crime – the bloody aftermath that was seen by millions of people after Castile’s girlfriend livestreamed it online.
Castile’s death drew national attention, coming amid a wave of high-profile police killings of black men, which sparked street protests in cities across the United States.
A jury of seven men and five women, 10 of whom were white and two black, last week acquitted St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez for his role in the killing. Yanez testified that he had feared for his life after Castile told him that he was carrying a firearm and reached for his wallet when Yanez asked to see identification.
Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend in the passenger seat who broadcast the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live, testified that Castile never reached for the handgun he was licensed to carry.
Shortly after the verdict, the City of St. Anthony said Yanez, the son of a Mexican immigrant, would not return to active duty and it was negotiating a “voluntary separation agreement” with him.
“I’m mad as hell right now,” Valerie Castile told reporters after the verdict. “My first-born son died. … Just because he was a police officer, that makes it OK.” She said the verdict shows “the system continues to fail black people.”
The family’s attorney had said at the time it planned to file a civil lawsuit in federal court.
Video footage of the fatal shooting from the dashboard camera of a police car showed how quickly the incident unfolded, but shed no light on whether Castile had reached for his gun. Prosecutors had argued Yanez was not justified in firing his gun, saying Castile was courteous and non-threatening.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the state capitol in St. Paul after the verdict, and a series of speakers demanded justice for minorities in the American judicial system and stronger accountability measures for police.
(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Bernard Orr)