Vigil held on second anniversary of Philando Castile shooting death

A somber vigil was held in Falcon Heights Friday night remembering Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police exactly two years ago.

“It’s been 780 days since I’ve seen my son and touched my son,” said Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother, at the vigil. “I always have conversations with him because his spirit still lives.”

“This two-year commemoration of what happened to Phil, it’s important,” said Clarence Castile, Philando’s uncle. “We just can’t forget about what happened, because what happened was an injustice.”

Clarence Castile says this July 6, he once again woke up feeling this loss of his nephew.

“And then we think about the things we’ve done in this two-year period,” said Clarence. “All the good things that have come out of it. It’s horrible that my nephew’s gone, but we’ve done some good work since this happened to help this community heal and prepare themselves just in case something like this came up again.”

Clarence and Valerie were among the relatives, friends and community members who gathered along Larpenteur Avenue for a vigil marking the two-year anniversary of the shooting.

Philando Castile was shot by St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop. Last year, Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter charges, but fired from the police force.

Clarence Castile says high-profile police shootings since 2016 show the need for more change.

“Evidently, ain’t too much changed because it’s still going on,” he said. “So we need accountability. That’s one of the thing that may help things change. Accountability, people being responsible for what do and being punished when it’s wrong.”

People stopped by the scene throughout the day, leaving flowers, some overcome by emotion.

“He’s had such a powerful impact in his death that I hope that his family is taking some peace in the impact he’s had in the community,” said Sandra Mitchell, who works near the shooting scene.

Clarence Castile says he hopes to see more training for members of the community training in de-escalation procedures to keep them out of harm's way. Meanwhile, the City of Falcon Heights declared Friday and Saturday as days of unity and reconciliation.