Protests Shut MN Highway After Officer’s Acquittal

About 1,500 demonstrators shut down Interstate 94 in St. Paul for three hours after a jury acquitted St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez for shooting Philando Castile after a traffic stop last summer.

Protesters took to the streets Friday evening after a Minnesota jury acquitted St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the July 2016 shooting death of Philando Castile, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Police estimated 2,000 people took part in the march. About 1,500 of them marched onto Interstate 94 at about 10:30 p.m., closing the highway. Officials issued a dispersal order about 11:30 p.m. and warned that anyone who failed to comply would be arrested. Eventually, 18 people were taken into custody, including several journalists. Interstate 94 was reopened about three hours after protesters stormed onto the highway.

Yanez’s friends and family embraced while Castile’s supporters cursed and angrily walked out of the courtroom after the verdict, which came after nearly five days of deliberation. The Latino officer faced one count of second-degree manslaughter as well as two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm in connection with the fatal shooting of the 32-year-old black man during a traffic stop last summer. Yanez was the first police officer in modern Minnesota history to be charged in an officer-involved shooting. Despite orders from Judge William Leary that no one leave until he adjourned the case, Castile’s mother, Valerie, stood up immediately after the third “not guilty” verdict was read. She shouted profanity as she walked toward the doors as another supporter wailed.