Amid Philando Castile protests, Minnesota officials reverse Jeronimo Yanez's reinstatement
As Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who had been on leave for fatally shooting Philando Castile during a traffic stop on July 6, returned to work last week, protests intensified outside of the St. Anthony Police Department where he was to return to desk duty.
On Wednesday, it appeared the protesters' steadfastness paid off.
The mayor and city officials announced that they had rescinded Yanez instatement and that he was back on administrative leave, out of respect to the concerns raised by activists and by Castile's family. Here's the statement:
The City of St. Anthony has changed Officer Jeronimo Yanez's status with the city's police department. He will now return to administrative leave. The decision to change Officer Yanez's status was made after reviewing concerns and other feedback from the community. Out of respect to the sensitive nature of the tragic incident and the concerns from the community, the Mayor, City Council and City Manager have decided to make this change. Officer Yanez's status with the department will be reviewed when the investigation process related to the incident is complete.
Local activists, including those in the St. Paul and Minneapolis branches of the NAACP, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Yanez had returned to duty Aug. 17. The decision to reinstate him was defended by St. Anthony police Chief Jon Mangseth in an interview with the Associated Press. The chief said Yanez was to return to perform desk duties and other administrative work, while he waited for the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to finish its investigation into the shooting. The agency is still investigating the incident.
Yanez pulled Castile over for driving with a broken taillight before shooting him multiple times as he reached for ID and a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Soon after, Castile's girlfriend, who was also in the car with her daughter, began livestreaming the shooting aftermath through the Facebook app on her smartphone.
Occurring just one day after a Louisiana man was killed by Baton Rouge police, Castile's shooting death sparked weeks of protests nationwide. Protesters targeted the residence of Gov. Mark Dayton, who requested a U.S. Department of Justice review of Yanez's conduct in the shooting.
Protests were also staged outside of the St. Anthony Police Department and the office of Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. The prosecutor refused protesters' requests to step aside. Choi has hired a private attorney who will assist in deciding if Yanez will face criminal charges, the Star Tribune reported.
Officials have not said how long the investigation will take. But in the meantime, Castile's family has been vocal about Yanez's status on the St. Anthony police force.
"He should not have the opportunity to wear that uniform while this case is going on because my nephew doesn't get the opportunity to come back and live right now," Castile's uncle, Clarence, told KMSP-TV on Aug. 19. "So he shouldn't get the opportunity to be a police officer right now."