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Protests after Minnesota policeman cleared of manslaughter

A Minnesota police officer was acquitted of the killing a black motorist he shot five times during a traffic stop last year.

By Jon Francis | Published: 17th June 2017 News Updates

It was an incident that drew national attention after the victim's girlfriend live-streamed the bloody aftermath on social media.

St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez, who testified that he feared for his life when he fatally shot Philando Castile last July, was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter.

The jury of seven men and five women, 10 of whom were white and two of whom were black, sided with the officer after deliberating for more than 25 hours spanning five days, acquitting Yanez on all charges.

The shooting death of Castile, 32, in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights triggered local protests and fueled debate across the country over the appropriate use of force by law enforcement against minorities.

Friday's verdict drew an angry reaction from Castile's mother.

"I'm mad as hell right now," Valerie Castile told reporters after the verdict. "My first-born son died. ... Just because he was a police officer, that makes it OK."

She said the verdict shows "the system continues to fail black people."

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the state capitol in St. Paul on Friday evening, and a series of speakers demanded justice for minorities in the American judicial system and stronger accountability measures for police. Many people waved signs and chanted in unison "stand up, fight back" and "if we don't get no justice, they don't get no peace."

After the rally, police said roughly 2,000 people marched peacefully down streets in St. Paul, at times blocking traffic at intersections and then on Interstate 94, a major highway. Marchers also blocked commuter trains at one point and chanted "Yanez Guilty."