Philando Castile family reaches $3M settlement in death


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The mother of Philando Castile, a black motorist killed by a Minnesota police officer last July, has reached a almost $3 million settlement with the city that employed the officer, avoiding a federal wrongful death lawsuit that attorneys said could have taken years to resolve. But the money will help Valerie Castile pursue the aims of her foundation, the Philando Castile Relief Foundation, according to a joint statement released by her attorneys and the city of St. Anthony.

Reynolds was in the passenger seat and her 4-year-old daughter was in the back seat when Officer Jeronimo Yanez stopped Castile for a broken taillight on July 6, 2016.

Yanez said on the stand that he fired his gun after Castile volunteered that he had a gun in his possession, and continued to move his arm despite orders not to reach for it. Castile had a permit to carry the gun, which was later found in his right front shorts pocket.

The shooting gained global attention when its aftermath was live-streamed on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who along with her 4-year-old daughter, was in the vehicle at the time.

The US$2.995 million settlement will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. The settlement, which must be approved by a state court, will avert a federal wrongful death lawsuit in the Castile case, according to The Associated Press.

During his trial, Yanez, 29, testified that Castile ignored his commands not to pull out his gun.

The officer ordered Castile to produce his driver's license and then shot him as he reached for it. Yanez claimed he feared for his life.

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Yanez was let go from the police department.

This comes just days after the family of Michael Brown reached a settlement over the fatal shooting of the Black teenager by a White Ferguson, Missouri police officer.

Bennett said Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, is not part of the settlement.

A spokeswoman for Hatchett said Valerie Castile did not wish to make any additional comments beyond what was included in the joint statement.

"The death of Philando Castile is a tragedy for his family and for our community", the statement said.

After Yanez's acquittal, the city of St. Anthony said it was offering Yanez a "voluntary separation agreement" from the police department, and he would no longer be an on-duty officer. In the absence of serious police reform and accountability more mothers will mourn the deaths of their children and the trust between local police and the communities they serve will continue to erode.