One year later: Family, friends remember Philando Castile

- Thursday marked one year since the shooting death of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights.

On July 6, 2016, Officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled Castile over for a missing brake light. Video of the encounter shows Yanez asking for license and registration, and Castile complying. Castile then tells Yanez that he has a firearm, and within seconds, Yanez opens fire.

Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, and her then-four-year-old daughter were in the car at the time. Reynolds streamed video of the chaotic aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live. The video quickly went viral, sparking protests around the state.

Castile, known as “Phil” by his friends, was 32 years old when he was shot. He worked as a cafeteria supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul.

After 10 years working at the school, Castile earned the respect and adoration of both the staff and students.

“Kids loved him,” a coworker said. “He was smart, over-qualified. He was quiet, respectful and kind.”

A statement by St. Paul Public Schools said Castile knew the names of all the kids in the school. His disposition was cheerful, and often greeted former coworkers with a smile and hug.

Castile was also ambitious. When he was promoted to a supervisory position, he arrived at his interview wearing a shirt and tie, saying his goal was to one day “sit on the other side of this table.”

Those who worked with him daily said he will be greatly missed.

Last month, officer Yanez was acquitted of all charges, including second-degree manslaughter of Castile, and intentional discharge of a firearm that endangered the safety of Reynolds' daughter.

Castile’s death and the subsequent trial verdict brought large waves of protests. Twice, protestors shut down Interstate 94 with their presence, and once I-35W during morning traffic.

The governor’s residence, St. Anthony police station and J.J. Hill all saw enormous crowds gather in remembrance of Castile. 

Additionally, a “pop-up” memorial has been erected in Falcon Heights in honor of Castile. On it, a quote by Nelson Mandela reads, “I have cherished the ideal of democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities…but if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Since the fatal shooting of Castile, lawmakers have called for changes in policing and officer training.
One year after Castile’s death, Governor Dayton and Castile’s mother spoke out about law enforcement training.

At the press conference, Dayton called on a new police training fund to be named after Castile. Dayton called the shooting one of the most traumatic events during his two terms as governor.

Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother, expressed the need for extra police training.

“This is not about my son anymore,” Castile said. “We need this extra training for our police officers because at the end of the day everyone wants to go home.

 

 

Classmates of Castile from Central High School vowed to remember him through the creation of a scholarship. Each year, a young man of color will be awarded $5,000 for furthering their education.

On Thursday evening, the anniversary of Castile’s death, friends and family will throw a Celebration of Life Anniversary. The Castile family has invited the community to come out “for a day of love, life, healing, food, music and a celebration of Philando’s life.”

An event to remember victims of police violence will also be held at the Como Pavilion. Diamond Reynolds will be a guest speaker at the event.

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