Philando Castile's Girlfriend, Who Witnessed His Shooting by Police, Gets $800,000 From Cities
By Pat Pheifer
The St. Anthony City Council, facing "threatened litigation," voted Tuesday night to pay Diamond Reynolds and her young daughter a $675,000 settlement in connection with the police shooting of Philando Castile.
Reynolds will receive another $125,000 from the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust and the city of Roseville, making the total settlement $800,000.
The settlement resolves Reynolds' claims of "emotional distress and false arrest," according to a statement on St. Anthony's website.
Reynolds, 28, and her daughter, who was 4 at the time, were riding in the car with Castile when he was pulled over by a St. Anthony police officer on July 6, 2016, in Falcon Heights. Castile volunteered that he had a gun, and the officer started shooting, fatally hitting Castile. One bullet passed within inches of Reynolds' daughter who was in the back seat.
Reynolds began livestreaming on Facebook moments after the shooting. The video has been viewed millions of times.
Neither Reynolds nor her daughter was injured, but Reynolds was detained for a time by Roseville police and questioned by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Those issues figured into the settlement, according to the city's statement.
Reynolds released a short statement Tuesday night, saying, "The settlement symbolizes that what happened to my daughter and I on July 6, 2016 was wrong. While no amount of money can change what happened, bring Philando back, or erase the pain that my daughter and I continue to suffer, I do hope that closing this chapter will allow us to get our lives back and move forward."
Reynolds' attorney, Larry Rogers, did not return phone messages left for him Tuesday.
The settlement "will resolve all civil litigation" against the city and current and former employees and "opens the door to healing," Mayor Jerry Faust said.
Once approved by the court, a portion of the settlement will be placed into trust for Reynolds' daughter and her future educational needs, the city's statement said.
"The settlement does not assume guilt by any of the named parties, instead the agreement allows the parties to avoid the protracted litigation involved with adjudicating state claims and potential federal civil rights claims, which may have taken years to resolve," the statement said.
After previous mediation, City Council members went into a closed-door session about 7:35 p.m. Tuesday night. Twenty minutes later, they emerged and voted 4-0 to approve the settlement.
The officer who shot Castile, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted of all charges in a jury trial in June. The initial shooting and the verdict sparked weeks of protests, including two that shut down Interstate 94 in St. Paul.
St. Anthony City Manager Mark Casey said officials have been in touch with Reynolds' attorney about potential litigation. Although she and her lawyer did not file a lawsuit in court, they prepared one that they shared with city officials before Tuesday's meeting.
In June, Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, received a $3 million settlement from the city of St. Anthony. Although Castile's father asked for part of that money, the court ultimately decided it should all go to his mother.
Valerie Castile has used some of the money to start a foundation in her son's name. Philando Castile, 32, worked as a nutrition services supervisor at J.J. Hill Montessori School in St. Paul at the time of his death.
(c)2017 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)