A look at players in Philando Castile police shooting case

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Posted: Jul 12, 2016 8:58 PM
A look at players in Philando Castile police shooting case

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The cast of people with a role in the Philando Castile police shooting case continues to grow.

They include the police officer who killed the 32-year-old black man in suburban St. Paul during a traffic stop, family members of Castile, attorneys and state officials.

The latest addition is Glenda Hatchett, the former TV judge hired by Castile's family to represent them for a potential civil lawsuit in his death.

Here's a look at some of the key players in the case:

THE DRIVER

Castile was a longtime school cafeteria worker who family members described as loving and laid-back. He was days shy of his 33rd birthday when he was shot.

Castile and his girlfriend were driving through Falcon Heights on July 6 when they were pulled over for what his girlfriend has said was a broken tail light. Castile told officers that he had a gun in the car and a permit to use it, and one of them shot him when he reached for his wallet, said his girlfriend, who streamed the shooting's aftermath live on Facebook.

Court records show he had been stopped or ticketed more than 50 times.

Castile worked at JJ Hill Montessori School in St. Paul. Quick with a high-five for students and always eager to sneak kids extra graham crackers and other treats, Castile was known simply as "Mr. Phil."

THE OFFICER

Jeronimo Yanez, who is Latino, had worked for the St. Anthony Police Department for nearly five years when he pulled Castile's car over and, within minutes, fatally shot him several times.

The officer's attorney, Thomas Kelly, has said that one of the reasons Yanez pulled Castile over was because he thought he looked like "a possible match" for a suspect in a recent armed robbery. The convenience store holdup happened less than 2 miles down the same street from where Yanez stopped Castile.

St. Anthony is a predominantly white St. Paul suburb whose department also patrols Falcon Heights.

Yanez graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato in 2010 with a degree in law enforcement. So did his partner, Joseph Kauser, who was also present during the fatal encounter. Both officers were placed on paid administrative leave.

THE GIRLFRIEND

Millions have seen Diamond Reynolds in the live Facebook stream she captured on her cellphone as her boyfriend lay bleeding next to her in the driver's seat. She's been praised for her split-second decision to stream the shooting's aftermath and her measured responses to the officer who still has his gun out in the video.

Reynolds told MSNBC-TV she recorded the situation because she felt "as though I'm a nobody."

"I knew at the end of the day it was going to be the law enforcement's word over mine," she said.

Reynolds' 4-year-old daughter was also inside the car when Castile was shot.

THE MOTHER

Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, has emerged as a voice for change in the wake of her son's high-profile death. She has urged protesters to remain calm and peaceful during demonstrations while also calling on lawmakers to survey state and federal laws for potential fixes to police training, hiring and other issues she feels contributed to her son's death.

"He is the driving force in me to make sure this doesn't happen to another mother," she said.

THE LAWYERS

Hatchett's hire by Philando Castile's family adds to the list of lawyers involved with the case. Kelly, a Minneapolis-based attorney, is representing Yanez.

Both attorneys have high-profile histories. Hatchett is best known as the star of the unscripted syndicated TV show "Judge Hatchett" after spending a decade as a corporate attorney for Delta Air Lines. Kelly represented ex-U.S. Sen Larry Craig, the former Republican lawmaker from Idaho who was arrested after allegedly soliciting sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

Reynolds has hired her own attorney: Larry Rogers, a Chicago-based lawyer who has forged a reputation for working on police misconduct cases.

THE AUTHORITIES

As the federal government stays on the sideline despite repeated pleas from Minnesota's governor and other top officials, Minnesota's investigators at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are leading the inquiry into Castile's death.

Those state investigators have been largely silent since taking the case, though Department of Public Safety Commissioner Ramona Dohman, who oversees the agency, promised an "expedient" investigation.

Investigators won't answer several critical questions, including confirming Reynolds' assertion that Castile was licensed to carry the firearm he had on him at the time of the traffic stop or what led up to the fatal encounter.

The decision of whether to file charges will fall to Ramsey County Attorney John Choi, who hasn't decided whether he'll use a grand jury.

THE GOVERNOR

Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, came out forcefully immediately after the shooting, calling it unthinkable and drawing criticism from law enforcement organizations for saying racism may have been a factor.

Dayton, who is white, met with Castile's family, local black community leaders and the national president of the NAACP. He also repeatedly emerged from his residence in St. Paul to speak with demonstrators outside.

Dayton has suggested he'll outline proposals to reshape law enforcement tactics and improve community relations with black residents in the weeks ahead.

THE PROTESTERS

Castile's shooting has attracted protesters who are calling for police reforms and punishment for Yanez.

Dozens of protesters were arrested after a march on Interstate 94 shut down a 6-mile stretch of the freeway. Nearly 50 demonstrators have been charged with third-degree riot, a misdemeanor.

Police allowed demonstrators to camp on the street outside the governor's mansion for days, with the governor saying they had every right to be there. Officers eventually cleared tents out from the road to free up traffic, but demonstrators quickly reclaimed the street.