St. Anthony police officer who shot Philando Castile placed back on leave

Published 9:32 am Thursday, August 25, 2016

By Chao Xiong

Minneapolis Star Tribune

The City of St. Anthony has placed the officer who fatally shot Philando Castile back on administrative leave “after reviewing concerns and other feedback from the community” about his reinstatement last week.

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Officer Jeronimo Yanez returned to duty Aug. 17, a decision that drew widespread outcry and protest outside the Police Department’s headquarters.

The city issued a statement Wednesday on its website noting that the move has been reversed.

“Out of respect to the sensitive nature of the tragic incident and the concerns from the community, the Mayor, City Council and City Manager have decided to make this change,” according to the statement.

Yanez killed Castile, 32, on July 6 during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the passenger seat and live-streamed the aftermath on Facebook.

The shooting sparked weeks of protest outside Gov. Mark Dayton’s residence, on Interstate 94 and outside Ramsey County Attorney John Choi’s office.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) is investigating the shooting. Spokeswoman Jill Oliveira said Wednesday that the investigation remains active, and that the agency has not set a date for when the case will be forwarded to Choi’s office for review.

Activists and a number of local organizations have called for an independent prosecutor to review evidence in the case and determine whether Yanez should be criminally charged, but Choi has remained steadfast that his office will not be left out of the process.

Choi refused to turn over the case, and instead, hired private attorney Don Lewis to act as a special prosecutor who will assist his team in-house. Choi still has to decide whether he will determine if Yanez should be charged with a crime, or whether he will turn the case over to a grand jury to decide.

Choi and most county attorneys in Minnesota have historically relied on grand juries to decide such cases, a practice activists have sought to end.

Yanez’s status with the police department will be reviewed once the BCA investigation is finished.

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