The mother and girlfriend of Philando Castile spoke to reporters Wednesday, relieved that charges had been filed against an officer following Castile’s shooting death in July. (Nov. 16) AP
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The family of the man fatally shot by a St. Anthony Police officer fully supports a decision to charge that officer with manslaughter instead of a more serious charge.
Glenda Hatchett, attorney for the family of Philando Castile, spoke for his mother, Valerie Castile, and her family Wednesday afternoon, hours after the Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced that a second-degree manslaughter charge and multiple charges of dangerous discharge of a firearm were filed against Officer Jeronimo Yanez.
“We see this as a historic decision, a historic time,” Hatchett told reporters.
Castile’s mother urged those who have protested in the wake of her son’s death to let the legal process take its course.
“We want peace,” she insisted. “We don’t want any protests to get outrageous.”
Hatchett supports the manslaughter charge from a legal perspective, saying Minnesota statutes dictate what Choi and his prosecutors can pursue.
“Certainly, if I had my druthers, the penalty would be more severe. But we have to be realistic. This is what the law says and this is the charge they brought,” Hatchett said. “The worst thing that could happen is that the officer is overcharged and is found not to be responsible for the charges.”
In a separate interview, Castile’s girlfriend and the woman who live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live, said while it’s not the criminal charge she wanted or expected, she said, “We have to give credit where it’s due.”
Diamond Reynolds said she feels relieved that charges were brought against the officer but still sad. Her attorney, Larry Rogers, commended Choi for not only bringing charges against the officer but also for filing additional charges for endangering the lives of Diamond and her daughter when he fired those shots.
Reynolds said her 4-year-old daughter is “amazing and full of life,” adding that her energy is what keeps her going every day.
“Like any kid, she has questions, but she’s getting help,” she said.
Reynolds said the months that have followed that July 6 incident have taken a toll on her. She found herself being vilified on social media and even lost her job.
A Minnesota County Attorney announced Wednesday that a St. Anthony police officer has been charged with second degree manslaughter in the death of Philando Castile. The aftermath was broadcast live on Facebook in July. AP
“I never asked for this to happen to me,” she said, through tears. “I never asked for the negative or the positive but it has affected my life, it affected my job, it affects the way people look at me, it affects everything I do in my life.”
“It’s just hard to move forward here in Minnesota, when you feel like everyone is against you,” she said. “I’m only human.”
While the filing of charges is a first step toward justice being served, Reynolds said she’ll never get closure.
“To him, I was perfect and I miss that,” she said.
Hatchett confirmed that a civil lawsuit is in the works involving Philando Castile’s death, but says the current criminal case against Yanez is now priority, both for Castile’s family and the entire nation.
“We see this as a stake in the ground,” she said, “that we are intending for this case to send a loud message that things must change in this country.”
Follow Dana Thiede on Twitter: