Officer’s Lawyer: Police Had ‘Reasonable Suspicion’ Philando Castile Looked Like Robber

A suspect in the Lauderdale robbery. (St. Anthony police via the Minnesota Crime Alert Network)

A suspect in the Lauderdale robbery. (St. Anthony police via the Minnesota Crime Alert Network)

Tom Kelly, the lawyer for the Minnesota police officer who shot Philando Castile to death, says police “had a reasonable suspicion he may match the description of the suspect in the earlier robbery,” according to KARE 11 television in Minnesota. He also confirmed to the TV station that the “earlier robbery” was the July 2 heist of a gas station in nearby Lauderdale (see above photo for a picture of one of the two armed robbery suspects in that crime).

The officer’s attorney also told the TV station that Castile’s car had a brake light out. And he said that Yanez gave Castile “direct commands” before shooting him.

The TV station also says that Kelly, the lawyer for Officer Jeronimo Yanez, “confirms the details included in police dispatch audio played in a KARE 11 report.” That audio – which the station obtained from a viewer and hasn’t been able to confirm through police – shows a man, purportedly the officer, saying:

“I’m going to stop a car. I’m going to check IDs. I have reason to pull it over.”

“The two occupants just look like people that were involved in a robbery,” the man in the audio adds. “The driver looks more like one of our suspects, just ‘cause of the wide set nose.”

MSNBC is among the news sites that have now picked up the armed robbery angle; previously, Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, said the couple’s car was stopped for a broken taillight, a claim passed on by Minnesota’s governor.

“A lawyer representing the officer who shot Castile told the station on Tuesday that the details included in the recording were accurate, but did not vouch for the tape itself,” MSNBC reported. Heavy reached out to the officer’s lawyer seeking comment over the weekend but did not get a response. Investigators have not released the official dispatch audio in the case because it is under investigation.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune obtained the same account from the officer’s lawyer, writing: “A St. Anthony police officer pulled over Philando Castile because he was driving with a broken tail or brake light and he believed that Castile looked like a suspect from an armed robbery nearby that was reported a few days earlier, the officer’s attorney told the Star Tribune on Sunday.” Castile’s cousin told the newspaper the family believes the officer had no right to shoot Castile, despite the reason for the stop.

The newspaper quoted Kelly as saying of Officer Yanez: “All he had to have was reasonable suspicion to pull him over.” A lawyer who helped the family after the shooting, Albert Goins, told the Star Tribune that, if Castile was a robbery suspect, “officers would have initiated a felony traffic stop” and that Yanez “failed to follow protocol.”

MSNBC says Castile’s family has now hired television host Glenda Hatchett, a former judge, to represent them.

The officer’s lawyer told the Minnesota TV station KARE 11 that he was not saying Castile himself was an armed robbery suspect. Castile’s criminal history, while extensive, was almost entirely traffic and contained nothing as serious as armed robbery. This is the other photo from the armed robbery in question, which Heavy obtained through the Minnesota Crime Alert Network:

One of the armed robbery suspect photos that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension widely circulated to the news media of a Lauderdale, MN gas station robbery that occurred July 2.

One of the armed robbery suspect photos that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension widely circulated to the news media of a Lauderdale, MN gas station robbery that occurred July 2.

You can learn more details about the armed robbery and the police crime alert here.

Listen to the possible dispatch audio here:

VideoVideo related to officer’s lawyer: police had ‘reasonable suspicion’ philando castile looked like robber2016-07-13T00:19:24-04:00

The TV station’s airing of the audio led Castile’s uncle, Clarence Castile, to say the stop smacked of racial profiling. He told KARE 11 in a previous account: “I just thought it was kind of insane to pull somebody over saying they matched a robbery suspect by having flared nostrils. It is kind of hard to see flared nostrils from a car.”

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The officer involved in the shooting has been placed on administrative leave. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton told the Washington Post: I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists. Nobody should be shot and killed in Minnesota for a taillight being out of function. (Facebook)

The attorney, Kelly, said previously that Yanez was reacting to Castile’s gun, not his race, according to USA Today; the Minneapolis Star Tribune has confirmed that Castile had a valid gun permit, and Reynolds says in the video that Castile told Yanez he had a gun.

WCCO previously reported that the Lauderdale gas station robbery involved two males who used handguns. It occurred at a Super USA on July 2.

The death of Castile has sparked protests throughout the country and may have helped motivate the Dallas police shooter after Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, streamed the aftermath of his shooting via Facebook Live.

Heavy previously reported on the audio here.