Charges Against Minnesota Cop Not Enough For Protesters

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Amber Randall Civil Rights Reporter
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Protesters hoped for harsher chargers for the cop responsible for Philando Castile’s death, even though his charges are almost unheard of.

As protesters took to the street to celebrate the charges, they lamented that Officer Jeronimo Yanez’s charges weren’t stricter, reports CBS Minnesota.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced Wednesday Yanez would be facing second degree manslaughter charges and two felony charges for his fatal shooting of Castile during a July 6 traffic stop.

“The reason I’m a little distressed about second and third-degree murder not being the charges is that both of those carry a much more severe penalty than second degree manslaughter, which is just kind of like, ‘Oh, an accident happened,’” Michelle Gross, with Communities United Against Police Brutality, said.

Despite protesters’ desire for harsher charges, an officer receiving charges like Yanez did is rare, as noted by the Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing For Change.

Out of 83 police shootings the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated, only one of them lead to an officer being charged, according to an analysis of state police shootings from 2003-2013.

During that time, Minnesota law enforcement fatally shot 44 people and injured another 39 people; one officer was indicted for shooting an unarmed man, but his charges were later dropped.

Castile’s relatives had mixed reactions on Yanez’s charges. His mother and his girlfriend, Diamond Reyonlds, said they were pleased with the charges he faced.

Reynolds also declared she would prefer Yanez face murder charges, but she is relieved that Yanez was charged at all.

Castile’s uncle, Greg Taylor, maintained that while Yanez’s charges are a good first step, one would hope for murder charges.

“It’s a step in the right direction. But one would hope for an actual homicide charge, a charge of murder,” Taylor said.

One part of Minnesota’s murder law says that in order for a person to be guilty of murder, the murder must be premeditated.

Tulsa officer Betty Shelby, who also recently shot an unarmed black man, faces first degree manslaughter charges. (RELATED: Tulsa Cop Now Faces First Degree Manslaughter Charges) 

Shelby shot Terence Crutcher, a man high on PCP at the time of his death, Sept. 16. Shelby maintained that she believed Crutcher was reaching into his car for a weapon when she shot him.

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