The Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a July 2016 traffic stop and was acquitted last month left his department not long after the criminal trial concluded, officials said this week, departing from the force shortly before the first anniversary of the shooting.
Yanez pulled over Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., on July 6, 2016, for a traffic stop that began calmly and escalated to bloodshed in moments. After Castile told Yanez he had a gun, Yanez began telling him not to pull it out and Castile responded he was not; seconds later, Yanez fired into the car, mortally wounding Castile.
After the shooting, Yanez said he feared for his life and thought Castile was grabbing a gun. Castile and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, both said he was not reaching for his gun. The shooting’s aftermath unfolded in an emotional Facebook Live video filmed by Reynolds from the car’s front seat that soon spread around the world, becoming the second deadly police shooting of a black man in as many days to spark intense protests due to a viral video.
Yanez, who was charged last year, was acquitted last month on charges of manslaughter and endangering Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who was in the car’s back seat.
On the day of his acquittal, officials in St. Anthony released a statement saying Yanez would not return to the police force because “the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city.” In a statement at the time, the city said it would offer him “a voluntary separation agreement” to be negotiated in the near future.
On Monday, St. Anthony officials announced that Yanez and the city had reached that agreement ending his employment there. The city did not immediately say when Yanez left the force or whether he received any severance payment, but instead explained why they sought the agreement instead of firing him.
“Since Officer Yanez was not convicted of a crime, as a public employee, he would have appeal and grievance rights if terminated,” the city said in a statement. “A reasonable voluntary separation agreement brings to a close one part of this horrible tragedy. The city concluded this was the most thoughtful way to move forward and help the community-wide healing process proceed.”
Under the terms of the confidential separation agreement, Yanez agreed to leave the department on June 30 with a payment of $48,500 and a payout for up to 600 hours of unused personal leave, according to the five-page document, a copy of which was released to The Washington Post on Tuesday. (Documents previously released by the city have pegged his annual salary at more than $72,600.)
This agreement also says it settles any claims Yanez may have against St. Anthony. The agreement — which was signed on Monday by Yanez and Mark Casey, the St. Anthony city manager — was first reported by the Associated Press.
An attorney for Yanez did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
The agreement with Yanez comes not long after Castile’s family reached a $3 million settlement with St. Anthony, which avoids a federal civil rights lawsuit his relatives had pledged to file.