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St. Anthony to consider settlement with Diamond Reynolds

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Diamond Reynolds
Diamond Reynolds, girlfriend of Philando Castile, holds a candle during a vigil for Castile three months after his death, Oct. 7, 2016.
Tom Baker for MPR News

Officials in the city of St. Anthony are planning to meet in a closed-door session Tuesday to discuss a possible settlement with Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, a 32-year-old man shot to death by a police officer during a traffic stop last year.  

Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter were in the car when Castile was pulled over in the city of Falcon Heights on July 6, 2016. St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez opened fire moments after Castile, who had a permit to carry, disclosed that he had a firearm. Reynolds streamed the aftermath of the fatal shooting on Facebook Live.

  St. Anthony city manager Mark Casey said officials have been in touch with Reynolds' attorney about potential litigation, although she has not yet filed a lawsuit. Any final decision about a settlement with Reynolds will need to be made in the city council's public meeting.

  Castile's killing sparked protests across the Twin Cities and led to charges against Yanez. A jury this summer found Yanez not guilty of manslaughter and dangerous discharge of a firearm.  

Castile's family settled with St. Anthony in June for $2.995 million, which was disbursed to his mother Valerie Castile.  

Attorney Robert Bennett, who represented Castile's family but is not representing Reynolds, said she has some possible grounds for a lawsuit, but that it isn't as clear-cut as the Castile family's case.

  "It's a chapter that the city should want in the rearview mirror," Bennett said, "but cities don't always make the right decision."  

St. Anthony is covered by an insurance policy with the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. But the June settlement with Castile's family almost maxed out the policy, leaving just $5,000 in remaining coverage for this incident. The city would need to cover any settlement that exceeds that amount.  

As a result of claims related to Castile's death, St. Anthony's premiums for the insurance plan will increase by about $12,000 for each of the next three years, according to claims manager Darin Richardson.

  Following his acquittal, Yanez agreed to voluntarily leave the St. Anthony Police Department. He received a payout of $48,500, as well as payment for any unused personal leave up to 600 hours.  

Reynolds' attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.