Minnesota town offers settlement almost as large as its police budget in Philando Castile killing

St. Anthony, MN — population 9,007 — spends roughly that much each year to have its own police force.

Valerie Castile, second from left, marches alongside the casket of her son Philando during his funeral last summer. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jim Mone
Valerie Castile, second from left, marches alongside the casket of her son Philando during his funeral last summer. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jim Mone

Valerie Castile will receive nearly $3 million from the city of St. Anthony, Minnesota, family lawyers announced Monday.

The payment preempts a wrongful death lawsuit over St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez’s killing of Castile’s son Philando last summer. Yanez was acquitted of criminal charges in the killing, where video shows him shooting Castile point-blank as the man and his girlfriend try to explain to the officer that Castile’s licensed fire-arm is in the car.

While comparable in size to other police killings settlements, the deal announced Monday is enormous in the context of the tiny suburb’s fiscal reality. The 9,000-person municipality has a total annual budget of around $7 million, half of which goes to the standalone St. Anthony Police Department. The settlement, which would nearly bankrupt the city if paid directly from general revenues, will be paid through St. Anthony’s municipal insurance.

In police department videos of the killing, Castile and girlfriend Diamond Reynolds can each be heard repeatedly telling Yanez that Castile is not reaching for the gun he told officers is in the car. Yanez’s voice rises to a shout. Seven seconds after Castile first offered the officer a heads-up that a gun was in the car, Yanez fires.

Five minutes later, officers from another tiny neighboring suburb begin attempting first aid on the slain man. Another three minutes later, Yanez is heard explaining to fellow officers that he had been “getting fucking nervous” just before killing the driver he had pulled over because of a faulty tail light.