ST. PAUL - We know the verdict. We've seen the video. So many people have an opinion on the death of Philando Castile. But for the Castile family, days of devastation started ten days before Philando would’ve celebrated his birthday. He would have turned 33.
“We have cried and cried. We’ve cried until you can’t cry anymore,” Beverly Castile said about the death of her nephew.
“I am still in disbelief that what happened July 6, 2016 that there is no vindication here on June 21, 2017,” Tracy Castile said. “My heart is still ripped apart.”
Philando Castile's aunt Beverly and his uncles, Tracy and Clarence Castile, hoped something positive would come from their devastation. Their nephew, a legal gun owner, was shot and killed during a traffic stop.
Nearly one year later, on Tuesday, the world finally saw that happened before Castile’s girlfriend used Facebook Live to show what happened moments after the shots were fired.
“Looking at the dash cam video, with opening arguments, I thought from seeing that, that it would turn out differently,” Clarence Castile said.
In the trial, the jury determined former St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez was justified in his use of force that led to the shooting death of Philando Castile. The jurors were specifically asked to determine the level of culpable negligence. Officer Yanez was found not guilty on all charges.
“I don't think they (jurors) understood what the word culpable meant. He (Yanez) was negligent but they didn't understand the other part of it,” Tracy Castile added.
Clarence Castile added, “What about common sense?” Everybody is confused on the verdict and what they should do. Do we stand up and chant? Is that going to get anything done?” he said.
Beverly Castile said every day of the trial, she was hopeful. She, like her brothers, thought the outcome would be different.
Tracy Castile said moving forward, there are some conversations he wishes he didn’t have to have.
“As a black man, it bothers me to even say we must tell our young black kids how to act when they have encounters with the police,” he said glancing at another nephew, 5, sitting nearby.
Beyond the civil lawsuit, the entire family wrestles with the best way to move forward.
Do we go to our legislators and lawmakers and ask them to do something? But what do you ask them to do?
Clarence Castile wants to do more than talk. He wants to wear the uniform. He hopes to start training later this year to become a reserve officer with the St. Paul Police Department. It is something he says always wanted to do.
“What I want to do is go in and talk to our young children, future generations, with this uniform on and let them know police are nothing to fear,” Clarence Castile said. “I want to share with these kids on how to handle situations. Coming from somebody in a uniform. Somebody of color. That is my plan. That was my plan before Phil got shot and killed but it all got pushed to the back burner. Got side tracked. I couldn't do it.”
“Philando didn't have any children. His kids were those 500 students up there at JJ Hill. I want to be able to give those kids some hope. Some faith. Some trust,” Clarence Castile said. “I still want to do it because I think I have an obligation to our future generation.”
Philando Castile was shot five times. Two of the bullets hit his heart. The spirit of Philando’s heart is remembered.
“He loved unconditionally,” Clarence Castile said. “He didn’t ask for a lot but he gave a lot.”