In July of this year, a Minnesota police officer shot and killed Philando Castile, despite Mr. Castile presenting no threat to the safety of the officer. Although Mr. Castile did have a gun, the weapon was permitted, and Mr. Castile advised the officer of the weapon. Tragically, his last words were about how he was not reaching for his gun, but rather for the documents the officer was requesting.
The Ramsey County Attorney's Office announced this week that the officer would indeed be facing a second degree manslaughter charge, as well as two additional felony charges for dangerous discharge of a firearm. The prosecutor is quoted, saying that "In order to achieve justice, we must be willing to do the right thing, no matter how hard it will seem." At the time of the shooting, Mr. Castile had his girlfriend and her young daughter in the car with him. Thankfully, neither child nor mother were physically injured.
Aftermath Broadcast on Facebook Live
A Facebook Live video, shot and broadcast by Mr. Castile's girlfriend immediately after the shooting, depicts the officer frantically yelling about how he told Mr. Castile not to reach for it, while his girlfriend calmly states that he was reaching for his ID after advising the officer about the gun. The video shows that she did not realize Mr. Castile had been fatally shot at first, but then, about halfway into the short video, she sees that Mr. Castile passed. (Beware that the video of the incident contains graphic content).
Reports state that the officer shot Mr. Castile 7 times. The video shows that while Mr. Castile is dying, the officer is still pointing his weapon, and no attempt to administer aid was provided.
No Grand Jury Necessary
The Ramsey County attorney charging the officer in this case explained that he felt that a grand jury indictment was not necessary. Generally, prosecutors seek a grand jury indictment in order to ensure that they have enough, and good, evidence to bring the matter to trial. In Mr. Castile's case, the prosecutor clearly believes that the evidence is sufficient to show a trial judge that there is sufficient evidence to try the case to a jury.
In addition to the witness testimony, Facebook Live video, and the physical evidence, there is dash cam audio and video footage from the police car. At this point, the officer's dash cam footage has not been released.
Although the officer is still currently on administrative leave, he faces up to 10 years in prison for a manslaughter charge, as well as potentially a few more years on the other felony weapons charges.