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Justice for Philando

A woman holds a sign with Philando Castile's image during a rally in St. Paul, Minn., after a police officer is charged in Castile's fatal shooting in Falcon Heights, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016.  (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen)

AP Photos/Jeff Baenen

A woman holds a sign with Philando Castile's image during a rally in St. Paul, Minn., after a police officer is charged in Castile's fatal shooting in Falcon Heights, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Jeff Baenen)

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Most Americans have heard about at least one unarmed black man being shot by the police in recent months. However, the growing attention has lead to many officers being charged with murder and manslaughter during the last two years.

There have been 77 officers charged with murder or manslaughter, according to data collected by the Justice Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, only 26 have been convicted, while 23 have criminal cases pending.

Officer-involved shootings have been in the hot seat over the course of 2016, from Ferguson to the Philando Castile shooting right here in Minnesota. It has been all over the news, sparking protests across the country.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Philando Castile case, it is an officer-involved shooting right here in St Paul.

What is the case?

Philando Castile was fatally shot on July 6th after a traffic stop by St. Anthony police officers Jeronimo Yanez and Joseph Kauser.  Officer Yanez spotted Castile near a fairground and believed that he matched the description of a suspect in an armed robbery. The traffic stop started like usual, with Castile preparing to hand over his insurance card. Before he reached for his license, he mentioned that he did have a gun. When he reached into his back pocket, Yanez shouted, “Don’t pull it out!” and within seconds, Yanez fired seven shots that fatally injured Castile.

After an investigation by Ramsey County, Officer Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of discharge of a firearm.

What happened afterward?

News of the shooting spread like wildfire across the country, as Castile’s fiancee Diamond Reynolds live-streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.

AP Photo/Jim Mone
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

In an interview with the Star Tribune in which he announced the charges, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi stated, “No reasonable officer — knowing, seeing and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time — would have used deadly force under these circumstances.”

If convicted, Yanez will face up to 10 years in prison for a second-degree manslaughter charge; he also could face even more time in prison for other charges.

Why is this Important?

Jeronimo Yanez is the first Minnesota officer charged with an on-duty killing. This crime could change the way other cases are handled here and in other states.

“This is most definitely a step in the right direction, said AVHS senior Samira Mohamed.  “I think it shouldn’t have taken so long for them to make a decision.  Hopefully many more people will bring awareness to this and see those innocent people are being killed for pointless things.”

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