The officer who shot and killed Philando Castile last week during a traffic stop has been identified as 28-year-old Jeronimo Yanez. Yanez was with his fellow officer and longtime friend Joseph Kauser when the fatal incident occurred. The two officers stopped Castile’s vehicle for an alleged broken tail light and both of them approached the car, Yanez from the driver’s side and Kauser from the passenger’s side. Sadly, we already know what happened next.
Yanez and Kauser graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato’s law enforcement program together and according to faculty and students, they were among the best of their class. Since 2011, Yanez had been working for the St. Anthony Police Department, a department which the police chief says had not had an officer-involved shooting in 30 years prior to last week. Kauser later joined the same police force in 2013.
Yanez and Kauser are both currently on paid administrative leave as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension continues to investigate the incident.
Yanez’s attorney, Thomas Kelly, says that his client is extremely distraught and saddened over the whole situation. He maintains that Yanez was reacting to Castile’s gun, rather than his race. However, audio that has been released from the traffic stop points towards racial profiling. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton also believes that race was the overlying factor, saying he believes Castile would not have been shot if he was white.