The death of Philando Castile and the trial of Jeronimo Yanez

Castile family vows lawsuit, legislative change after police shooting

Glenda Hatchett (left) and Valerie Castile.
Glenda Hatchett (left) stands with Philando Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, after a press conference in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Updated: 5:30 p.m. | Posted: 11:38 a.m.

Philando Castile's family will pursue a civil lawsuit and press for change at the Legislature in the way police are vetted and trained in the wake of his killing by a police officer during a traffic stop, the family's attorney said Tuesday.

Castile, 32, was shot by a St. Anthony police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights with much of the bloody aftermath captured on Facebook Live streaming video recorded by his girlfriend. He later died.

The shooting and video sparked protests and new calls for police reforms. His girlfriend who was in the car said that the officer knew Castile had a legal permit to carry a weapon and that Castile was simply trying to comply with the officer's demand for ID when he was shot.

"My son was a humanitarian. He was a pillar in this community. He didn't deserve to die like that," Valerie Castile told reporters. "I am devastated but I have to get a message out from him."

She also renewed calls for peaceful demonstrations: "I don't approve of violence because violence begets violence and that is not the way to obtain justice."

Castile got some positive encouragement Tuesday in the form of a phone call from President Barack Obama.

"We're all thinking about you and wish you the very best during these difficult times, and I will be speaking about him today, even when I'm in Dallas, and let them know what a good man he is. Let people know," the president told Valerie Castile.

Family lawyer Glenda Hatchett said it was "a loss for all humanity that Philando Castile was gunned down the way he was gunned down .... Philando is a son to all of us. This should not be just this families' pain. It should be one that we share collectively."

Without providing details, Hatchett said the family will sue and promised an aggressive investigation beyond the current one by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

She also said that police scanner traffic that's turned up on social media purporting to be from just before the Castile stop has not been authenticated.

The family, she said, will ask for "a comprehensive evaluation of laws" that oversee how police officers are hired and trained and how citizen complaints are handled, in Minnesota and across the country.

Castile's shooting has renewed calls to boost police training in Minnesota. Hatchett, though, added that the family has not taken a position on specific legislation yet.

"The last thing we want to do is penalize good police officers and deter them from wanting to be of service," she added.

Glenda Hatchett (right) speaks with the Castiles.
Hatchett (right) speaks to the media alongside members of the Castile family during a press conference in St. Paul on Tuesday.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Valerie Castile said her son would have turned 33 on July 16. Among their efforts to remember him, the family plans to hand out ice cream and cupcakes during the upcoming Rondo Days festival in St. Paul.

While laws need changing, society also needs to change it perspective on African-Americans she added.

She said she used to see parents on TV in similar circumstance grieving a child and think, "I hope that it would never happen to me. But it has."

The family said funeral services for Castile will be held at St. Paul Cathedral on Thursday.

"My son is a king. He is also a martyr, so I thought that would be the best place for him to have his services," Valerie Castile said.

The service will be open to the public but closed to the press, the family said.

Philando's uncle, Clarence Castile, says they're planning a reception after the funeral at J.J. Hill Montessori School, just 15 blocks away down Selby Avenue. It's the school where Philando worked before he died.

"My nephew was a giver. And he fed children all the time. Part of his lifestyle was feeding people. And so our repast meal is going to be about the same thing."

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