Valerie Castile: 'The system continues to fail black people'

The family of Philando Castile left the courthouse with angry tears, and a grief as fresh as a year ago, when Officer Jeronimo Yanez killed Castile in a hail of seven bullets.

“The system continues to fail black people,” said Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother. “Because this happened with Philando, they’re coming for you, for you, for you, and all your interracial children. Y’all are next and you’ll be standing. you’ll be fighting for justice.”

For Philando’s sister, Allysza Castile, there was disbelief that the jury could hear the conflicting testimony of Officer Yanez, take 29 hours for deliberation, and still reach a verdict of not guilty.

“For that man to get on the stand and lie. He got caught in three, four, five -- see his gun, gun was in his pocket. You heard what he said. For the jury to not have enough empathy baffles me.”

At J.J. Hill Montessori, the St. Paul school where Philando Castile worked in the cafeteria, he was known as Mr. Rogers with dreadlocks. But he’d also been stopped by police more than 50 times, mostly for minor traffic stops like the broken taillight he was stopped for before he was killed. Castile knew the drill, and seemed to cooperate with Officer Yanez.

“We’re devolving. We’re going to 1969,” Valerie said. “Damn! What’s it going to take.”

For his family and many in the community, Castile is now one more African American face denied justice, joining the grim gallery of names like Michael Brown of Ferguson, Freddie Gray of Baltimore, and Tamir Rice of Cleveland.

But Castile was also different. He had a weapon, and a permit to carry. And for the jury, that may have been the difference. 

“My first born, one son dead in Minnesota,” Valerie said. “Just because he’s a police officer.  Now they’ve got free reign.”

INTERVIEW: Yanez trial juror explains difficult process of reaching verdict