Another police shooting acquittal worries black gun owners

Demonstrators hold signs as they as they block traffic on Interstate 94 in St. Paul, Minn., after leaving a vigil at the state Capitol on Friday, June 16, 2017. We felt all along his conduct was justified.

At least 18 people arrested in the United States city of St Paul following acquittal of officer who shot and killed a black man.

Protests erupted in Minnesota Friday after a local twin cities police officer was found not guilty in a controversial shooting death previous year. "Are you kidding me right now?" Yanez said he feared for his life.

The finding was in line with recent history showing trials of police officers often end in non-convictions - almost 40 percent of the time for those that Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio's Bowling Green State University, has tracked since 2005.

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

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

Blocking highways as a form of protest is a common tactic in Minnesota.

On Friday morning, Yanez, 29, was cleared of a manslaughter charge as well as two lesser charges.

It was delivered in a Ramsey County District Court courtroom packed with family members and friends of both Yanez and Castile. Two holdouts eventually agreed after five days.

The video footage of the aftermath of the shooting taken by Castile's girlfriend had shaped many public perceptions of the fatal shooting before the trial. Hundreds blocked the I-94 freeway a year ago after Castile's death was first reported.

"They got free rein to keep killing us anyway they want", Valerie Castile said Friday night as protesters took to the streets of St. Paul, shutting down a freeway, after a Minnesota officer was acquitted in the killing of her son, Philando Castile, the Star Tribune reports.

But no video existed of exactly what happened inside the auto.

Prosecutors in St. Paul, Minnesota, said recordings from the auto - both from Reynolds' phone and from a dashboard camera - showed that Castile was courteous and non-threatening, and they told the court there was no justification for Yanez' action.

Yanez testified that he stopped Castile in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights because he thought he looked like one of two men who had robbed a nearby convenience store a few days earlier.

Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, though sentencing guidelines suggested around four years would have been more likely. Prosecutors questioned whether Yanez had even seen Castile's gun, and witnesses testified that it was in a pocket of Castile's shorts when paramedics pulled him from the vehicle. Castile appears to give something to Yanez through the driver's side window. Yanez said Castile was reaching for the gun and didn't listen to his instructions to stop. There is shouting, and Yanez screams, "Don't pull it out!" before he fires seven shots into the vehicle, five of which hit Castile.

"I am so very, very, very. disappointed in the system here in the state of Minnesota", Valerie Castile said.

Scott's shooting in April 2015 was captured on cellphone video seen worldwide.

In his testimony, Yanez's voice choked with emotion as he talked of being "scared to death" and thinking of his wife and baby daughter in the split-second before he fired. She said she began recording the shooting's aftermath because she feared for her life and wanted to make sure the truth was known.

  • Jack Mann