On Friday, Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter charges and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm in the shooting death of Philando Castile back on July 6, 2016, in St. Anthony, Minnesota.
Castile, a black man who was beloved by the children at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School in nearby St. Paul, where he worked as a cafeteria supervisor—“He remembered their names. He remembered who couldn’t have milk. He knew what they could have to eat and what they couldn’t,” a teacher at the school told Time—was in the car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter when he was shot down by Yanez. Reynolds captured the aftermath on Facebook Live, in a streaming video in which she pleaded with police as Castile lay dying in the vehicle.
Yanez was acquitted in the shooting death of Castile despite the existence of audio and a dashcam video in which Castile can be heard calmly informing the officer that he had a firearm on his person—which he had a license to carry—and that he was “not pulling it out,” a plea echoed by Reynolds, only to have Yanez scream “DON’T PULL IT OUT!” before firing seven shots at Castile, with five of them hitting him, and two of the bullets entering his heart. On Wednesday, the dashcam video of Castile’s death was released.
“Honestly, I thought that I felt all that I could feel about this story—until I got home, and I watched a newly released video,” said host Trevor Noah on The Daily Show Wednesday night. “And if you’ve already watched this video, you don’t have to watch it again. I wouldn’t say anyone has to watch this video. But if you haven’t seen it, it is graphic, and you probably should watch it. And we’re going to play it for you now.”
Noah then played the highly disturbing dashcam video, in which you can see Officer Yanez at the side of Castile’s vehicle along with their exchange—which, at least from an audio standpoint, appeared to align with Reynolds’ testimony. After Castile informs Yanez that he has a weapon on his person and is not reaching for it, you see the policeman scream “DON’T PULL IT OUT!” before firing seven bullets at Castile. Reynolds has claimed that Castile was reaching for his ID.
“I wont lie to you. When I watched this video, it broke me. It just… it broke me,” said Noah, clearly distraught. “You see so many of these videos and you start to get numb, but this one? Seeing the child—that little girl—getting out of the car after watching a man get killed, it broke my heart into little pieces. I thought of every joke people make about, ‘Oh, the most confusing day in the ’hood is Father’s Day. People don’t know where their parents are. Haha. Black dads.’ That’s a black dad that’s gone. That’s a child that grows up not knowing what it’s like to have somebody in their life.”
“You know what’s the most painful thing? For years, people said that there’s a simple solution to a police shooting: Just give the police body cameras, film everything, and then there will be no question about what happened,” Noah continued. “Black people have been saying for years: Just give us an indictment. Just an indictment. Just get us in front of a jury of our peers—of our follow citizens. We’ll show them the video, the evidence, and they will see it, and then justice will be served. And black people finally get there, and it’s like… what? Nothing?”
“You hear the stories but you watch that and—forget race, are we all watching the same video? The video where a law-abiding man followed the officer’s instructions to the letter of the law, and then was killed regardless? People watched that video and then voted to acquit?”
“It’s one thing to have the system against you—the district attorneys, the police unions, the courts—that’s one thing. But when a jury of your peers—your community—sees this evidence and then decides that even this is self-defense? That is truly depressing. Because what they’re basically saying is in America, it is officially reasonable to be afraid of a person just because we are black. And that’s the truth of what we saw with this verdict.”