3 months after Castile’s death, uncle says police need better training

Published 9:42 am Tuesday, October 11, 2016

By Mara H. Gottfried

St. Paul Pioneer Press

For Philando Castile’s family, justice goes beyond seeing punishment for the police officer who fatally shot him.

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“Justice for Philando is more to protect young people growing up in our country, not just in Minnesota, but in the whole United States,” Clarence Castile said as he spoke at a St. Paul church Monday. “It’s to also protect these police officers by educating them and getting them to do their jobs a little bit better. If they did their jobs better, then our young people would be safer.”

Castile was flanked at an afternoon news conference by faith leaders and community organizers, after about 100 of them gathered Monday to discuss economic, racial and social justice issues facing Minnesota.

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Castile, 32, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6. Castile’s girlfriend immediately live-streamed her account of the incident, saying Castile was shot while reaching for his ID after telling the officer he had a handgun permit and was armed.

Yanez’s attorney has said that the officer reacted after seeing a gun, and that one of the reasons he pulled Castile over was because he thought he looked like a “possible match” for an armed robbery suspect.

Yanez remains on paid administrative leave from the St. Anthony Police Department. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced about two weeks ago that it had turned its investigation over to the Ramsey County attorney’s office to review potential charges against Yanez, and that process is underway.

At the vice presidential debate last week, Democrat Tim Kaine brought up Philando Castile. Asked about it Monday, Clarence Castile said, “It was kind of good that it’s on their minds, but the thing is, they’re using his name, what are they going to do when it comes to … some mandatory requirements for police officers to get certain training?”

Castile said he and his sister, Philando Castile’s mother, plan to work with lawmakers because they want to see more training for police officers in diversity and de-escalation.

The Monday discussion among interfaith leaders at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul was led by the Rev. William J. Barber II, who started the Moral Monday Movement in North Carolina and who is traveling around the country.

Barber said he normally wears his clerical collar but was intentionally dressed down on Monday.

“Even though I’m a clergy, even though I have three degrees from three of the finest universities in this country, dressed like this, pulled over at the wrong time, I’m a black man,” Barber said. “I could get shot. … While you’re trying to comply with the law, you can get shot because of some mentality that black bodies are automatically dangerous. … We are not anti-police. We are anti-assassination on the spot. We are anti having to … tell our boys, ‘Just get home. Be quiet no matter what they say to you.’ “

But Barber said the discussion of violence can’t be limited to police brutality. He paraphrased Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.’s wife, and said, “Violence is ghetto housing, violence is not paying people a living wage, violence is not bringing infrastructure development in poor communities, violence is not making sure public education is fully funded.”
—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.