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Leaders, Community React To Jury's Acquittal In Yanez Case

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- After days of deliberation, a jury acquitted Officer Jeronimo Yanez second-degree manslaughter charges Friday in the death of Philando Castile.

Community, city and state leaders reacted to the news, along with those involved in the shooting.

Valerie Castile, Philando's mother, gave an impassioned speech outside the courthouse moments after the verdict was read:

Diamond Reynolds, who was in the car during the shooting and livestreamed the aftermath on Facebook, released a statement through her attorney:

"I am incredibly disappointed with the jury's verdict. My boyfriend, Philando Castile, was pulled over because, per Officer Yanez, he had a wide nose and looked like a suspect.

"He did nothing but comply with Officer Yanez's instructions to get his driver's license. He was seat belted and doing as he was told, when he was shot by Officer Yanez who fired seven shots into the vehicle where my 4-year-old daughter and I also sat.

"It is a sad state of affairs when this type of criminal conduct is condoned simply because Yanez is a policeman. God help America."

Castile was a cafeteria worker at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul. The St. Paul Public Schools released a statement on the announcement as well:

"The jury's verdict in the Officer Jeronimo Yanez trial may bring strong emotions for those who knew and cared for Philando Castile.

"This tragedy that impacts many people and lives in our community were forever changed.

"The St. Paul Public Schools community continues to remember and mourn the loss of 'Mr. Phil,' a beloved SPPS employee. School district counselors will be available to talk with students and staff as needed once summer term begins on June 19."

The St. Paul Federation of Teachers took a more harsh tone in their statement:

"We are outraged that the justice system failed today, yet again. Today's verdict serves as a reminder that the work toward racial justice must continue.

"Philando Castile was a beloved part of the J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School. The Saint Paul Federation of Teachers is committed to supporting the staff and community members who are deeply impacted by today's verdict.

"We are keeping Mr. Castile's family in our thoughts and prayers. Rest in power, Philando. #justice4philando #blacklivesmatter."

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman also released a statement after the jury gave its verdict:

"Today we learned of the jury's verdict regarding the shooting death of Philando Castile. Philando was a son of Saint Paul – a graduate of Central High School, and a dedicated employee at J.J. Hill Montessori, where he was loved by his students and co-workers.

"I commend Ramsey County Attorney John Choi and his staff for bringing this case – they did what they believed to be right for the cause of justice. Regardless of how you feel about the outcome, this is a difficult time in our community. Recognizing there is need for support, we will be opening the doors of community centers, schools and local gathering spaces for residents to come together for dialogue and understanding.

"As people across our city, state and country react to the jury's verdict, I urge each of us to move forward in a way that is peaceful and respectful of everyone – residents, demonstrators and police officers alike."

Gov. Mark Dayton released this statement:

"I extend again my deepest condolences to Philando Castile's family, to his friends, and to his community. Minnesotans continue to grieve with them, for their horrible loss. Mr. Castile's death was a terrible tragedy, with devastating consequences for everyone involved. I will continue to do all I can to help our state heal.

"There are thousands of law enforcement officers, who courageously risk their lives to protect our communities, and many other dedicated Minnesotans, who are working to correct the injustices in our state. I believe that, working together, we can make the changes necessary to secure both safety and justice, in all of our communities, for all Minnesotans."

Rep. Betty McCollum released this statement Friday:

"The death of Philando Castile last summer was a tragedy that shook our community and our entire country. His death continues to be painful and traumatic for his family, loved ones, and the many people touched by his life. After a thorough and fair investigation, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi correctly brought this case before a jury.

"The trial offered transparency to the public and allowed a jury to determine legal responsibility in this case. The jury has now resolved the legal issue of criminality by acquitting Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

"Many Minnesotans and Americans will be disappointed, heartbroken, and angry over today's verdict. Every member of our community is entitled to their own opinion on the case — and the peaceful expression of those opinions is the cornerstone of our democracy. However, there are things we can all agree on: We must work together to build a stronger, more trusting relationship between our communities and our law enforcement.

"And we must truly confront racism and racial injustice in every facet of our society. As we have these important conversations, I am hopeful that the entire Twin Cities community will be respectful of one another."

And Rep. Keith Ellison released this statement early Friday evening:

"This is an extremely painful day for our community. Just under a year ago, thousands of us rallied to support the Castile family in their time of hurt and crisis. Many people who knew Philando – his family, friends, students, and other loved ones – are forever marked by his death.

"Today's verdict re-opens old wounds, on top of the scars from past injustices that make so many Black Americans feel that their lives don't matter.

"I want to commend Ramsey County Attorney John Choi for taking the charging decision into his own hands rather than going to a grand jury, and for bringing the charges that he believed the facts and law supported.

"Today, my heart is with the family of Philando Castile. Our community must keep fighting in honor of Philando to make sure a tragedy like this never happens again. The movement for justice will continue to march ahead."

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