MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A day after Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in the shooting death of Philando Castile, Sen. Al Franken said that the 32-year-old cafeteria worker “did not deserve to die.”
In a Facebook post Saturday, the Democratic lawmaker said that he was heartbroken for Castile’s family, and he called for the country to reckon with “systemic racial inequalities” and dismantle them.
Franken also thanked Ramsey County Attorney John Choi for bringing charges in the case. It was the first time in Minnesota history that an officer was charged in an on-duty fatal shooting.
Yanez shot Castile five times on July 6 during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. The shooting happened just seconds after Castile informed the officer that he had a gun, which he was licensed to carry.
The shooting gained national attention after Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live-streamed the gruesome aftermath on Facebook. Protests erupted in the Twin Cities and beyond.
During the trial, Yanez testified that he feared for his life after he saw Castile’s gun. The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that Castile should not have shot Castile in any case.
After five days of deliberation, the jury cleared Yanez of all charges, which included second-degree manslaughter and two lesser charges for endangering Reynolds and her young daughter, who was in the backseat.
Following the verdict, peaceful protests were held throughout the weekend in St. Paul, Minneapolis and St. Anthony.