FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (WCCO) — A candlelight vigil is planned Thursday night to remember Philando Castile on the anniversary of his death.
One year ago, a police officer shot and killed the 32-year-old cafeteria worker during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.
St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled the trigger seconds after Castile told him he had a gun. Last month, a jury found Yanez not guilty of manslaughter, and other charges.
The case received international attention from the moment Castile’s girlfriend live-streamed the aftermath on Facebook.
On Thursday evening, people gathered at Gibb’s Farm for Philando’s Celebration of Life.
Castile’s Uncle, Clarence Castile, said there have been many highs and lows since his nephew was shot and killed last year.
“I was so hurt, distraught and in so much disbelief,” he said.
Clarence Castile says he will never forget the phone call from his niece, telling him his nephew had been shot by police.
“She was like, ‘It’s on Facebook, they’re on Larpenteur Avenue,'” he said.
Watching a livestream of the shooting’s aftermath was not enough for Clarence Castile to believe his nephew was gone.
“Beeline to Hennepin County Medical Center, and there it was it was real,” he said. “The whole family was there.”
It wasn’t until meeting with other family members outside HCMC that he realized it was not just a bad dream.
Clarence Castile says the horror of that night will never fade.
But it’s the work from so many trying to make a difference that stands out in his mind.
“They came out and let their presence be known, and we have been pushing since then for justice, whatever that might be, for new bills and policy,” he said. “We got some of that, we got a little injustice.”
Clarence Castile says the not guilty verdict for the officer who took Philando Castile’s life will not stop him for being a catalyst for change.
“We’ve been motivated, we’ve been inspired, we’re being led by something we don’t understand, but we call it Phil,” he said.
Clarence Castile is now committed to make change from the inside out.
“I want to be a part of the solution and not the problem, and to teach our kids to be the solution and not the problem,” he said.
Clarence Castile is a St. Paul Reserve Police Officer. He believes law enforcement and community can come together.
He says when you boil it down, we’re all human beings and must learn to live together.