Hundreds protest in Minnesota after cop acquitted of slaying black man

Castile's fatal shooting was among several cases around the US previous year where law enforcement officers were found to have killed blacks.

Police arrested 18 protesters early Saturday as thousands gathered in St. Paul, Minn., after a jury acquitted a police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile.

Jeronimo Yanez was also cleared of two lesser charges related to the July traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb.

Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, was driving with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter when they were pulled over by St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. Yanez said Castile was reaching for the gun and didn't listen to his instructions to stop.

The defense argued Castile was unable to heed the officer's instructions because he was allegedly under the influence of marijuana.

Yanez proceeded to tell him not to reach for it, to which Castile replied that he wasn't.

In his testimony, Yanez said he stopped Castile because he thought he resembled to one of two men who had robbed a nearby store a few days prior to the shooting.

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Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds broadcast the immediate aftermath of the shooting.

Blocking highways as a form of protest is a common tactic in Minnesota. Castile's family claimed he was profiled because of his race, and the shooting renewed concerns about how police officers interact with minorities.

Castile's mother Valerie Castile reacted to the acquittal verdict.

Outside the courthouse, Valerie Castile said her son followed the law.

In a statement, a Minnesota State Patrol spokeswoman said the protesters were charged with unlawful assembly, among other things, after they declined repeated demands from police to vacate the roadway.

Following the shooting, Yanez was placed on administrative leave and later charged with second-degree manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Her graphic video captures some of Philando's last moments, all with the couple's four-year-old daughter in the backseat.

Activists were hoping the cop would be severely punished for his actions, but a jury let him walk free on Friday (16Jun17), and Dawson, Mullally and Orange Is the New Black castmates Samira Wiley and Uzo Aduba were among those stunned by the verdict. The rest of the jurors are white.

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However, the member station adds that prosecutors "say Yanez never saw Castile's gun, never told officers who responded to the scene or to his police dispatcher that there was a gun [, and that he] shot recklessly, killing Castile".

"Philando Castile was our lunchman", one child told CBS Minnesota.

She remained stoic during the trial, sitting silently in the front row — across the aisle from Yanez's family — as the squad vehicle video of her son's shooting was played repeatedly.

Squad video shows Kauser was standing on the passenger side of the auto and jumping back when the shots were fired. There is shouting, and Yanez screams, "Don't pull it out!" before he fires seven shots into the auto, five of which hit Castile.

Organizers of the protest noted on Facebook that the verdict "shows how the system is rigged against justice for victims of police terror".

Theresa St. Aoro brought flowers Friday to the spot in Falcon Heights, outside Minneapolis, where Castile was shot. After handing over his insurance card, Castile told him, "Sir, I do have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me".

She has hired attorneys and plans a lawsuit.

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"I didn't ask for this, it fell at my door and I'm going to do anything and everything in my power so that man is prosecuted in some type of way", she said.

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