Chief defends officer in July shooting of Castile
Published 10:02 am Thursday, August 18, 2016
ST. ANTHONY — The police officer who killed a black motorist in a shooting whose bloody aftermath was livestreamed on Facebook was defended by his chief Wednesday as a level-headed member of the force with “a real sound ability when it comes to communicating and relating to people.”
In an interview with The Associated Press, St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth sketched a portrait at odds with the image of the officer screaming expletives while pointing his gun at the dying man in the video.
St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot 32-year-old Philando Castile during a traffic stop in nearby Falcon Heights on July 6. Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath live on Facebook and said Castile was shot several times while reaching for his ID after telling the officer he had a gun permit and was armed.
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More than a month later, Yanez was expected to return to work for the first time Wednesday, Mangseth said. Yanez will perform desk duties and other administrative work until the investigation is completed and charging decisions are made, the chief said.
Mangseth wouldn’t discuss any details of the shooting, including what prompted the traffic stop that preceded Castile’s death, citing the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s ongoing review of the incident.
Mangseth also wouldn’t say whether he thinks his officer should be charged or exonerated in the case. But he said the 28-year-old Yanez, who is Latino, has had a sterling reputation in St. Anthony’s police ranks since joining the force in late 2011. The chief described Yanez as energetic and intelligent, a skilled officer whom he chose to join the department’s special crime prevention program.
“He has a real sound ability when it comes to communicating and relating to people,” Mangseth said. “He showed me that he could shine in that public eye.”
In Castile’s girlfriend’s archived video of the aftermath of the shooting, Yanez is shown occasionally yelling expletives and pointing his gun at Castile as he lies bleeding in the driver’s seat of the car.
“I told him not to reach for it! I told him to get his hand off it!” he screams. The chief called Yanez’s reaction common in a high-stress situation.
Through an attorney, Castile’s family declined to comment on the chief’s assessments.
Castile’s death set off weeks of protests and calls for Yanez to be charged. It also put the sleepy collection of St. Paul suburbs that St. Anthony police serve in the group of communities dealing with officer-involved shootings of black men.