Philando Castile's mother, others react to guilty verdict in Van Dyke trial

- At the corner of Chicago and Lake, a celebration demonstration was held Friday night for a verdict 400 miles away.

“This is a really big deal for the movement and for police accountability in general," said Sam Sanchez, a member of Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar.

The small gathering was a show of support for the conviction of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke in the death of Laquon McDonald nearly four years ago. Van Dyke was found guilty of second degree murder. He was taken into custody moments after the verdict was read.

"I think this is a sign that people across the country have been upset and have been showing how upset they are with the system and I think the system is trying to balance itself because its tired of us and it should be," said Sanchez. 

The reverberations from the verdict are being felt by Valerie Castile as well.

"It’s about time,” said Valerie. “It’s about time."

Her son Philando was shot and killed during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights two years ago. The aftermath of the shooting was streamed around the world by his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds on Facebook Live. Even though St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged with manslaughter and dangerous discharge of a weapon in Philando’s death, a jury acquitted Yanez of all charges.

"Anytime you get a conviction that's a win because there are so many men women and children who've died at the hands of police officers,” said Valerie. “I don't think any one person should have that much power to be judge jury and executioner."

Castile believes the dash cam video made the difference in getting a conviction. The video shows McDonald walking away when Van Dyke shoots him more than a dozen times, which contradicts Van Dyke's claim that McDonald lunged at him and he feared for his life.

She also believes the acquittal in her son's death showed the country there is a flaw in the criminal justice system and the Van Dyke verdict is a step towards righting that wrong.

"I'm so thrilled we got a conviction,” said Valerie. “It wasn't my son getting a conviction, but his legacy lives on in what happened to him was seen through the eyes of so many. They are listening and they understand anyone could be Philando."

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