White Judge Replaces Black in Philando Castile Case

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CN) – A new judge has been assigned in the case on the shooting of Philando Castile, a black man whose death in a Minnesota traffic stop was live-streamed on Facebook.

Judge William H. Leary III will preside over the trial in Ramsey County District Court of police officer Jeronimo Yanez. Prosecutors charged Yanez in November 2016 with manslaughter and two felony counts for dangerous discharge of a firearm.

Attorneys for the officer, led by Earl Gray of St. Paul, had the black judge originally assigned to the case, Judge Edward Wilson, removed last month.

The Star Tribune reports that Leary is head of the court’s civil division.

Leary, who is white, was appointed by Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2002.

Yanez shot and killed Castile on July 6 during a routine traffic stop in Falcon Heights, a suburb of St. Paul.

Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, had been sitting beside him in the car, with her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat. She began live-streaming on Facebook after Castile was shot, capturing the man’s final moments.

Police had apparently pulled Castile and Reynolds over for a broken taillight. Castile, who was licensed to carry, was shot after informing the officers that he was carrying pistol. Paramedics recovered a loaded pistol in his shorts, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi noted when announced the manslaughter charges.

Yanez, who is Latino, accused Castile in a court filing last month of having lied on his application for a permit to carry a firearm, saying Castile “denied that he was an unlawful user of any controlled substance.”

Neither the Castile family’s attorney nor Gray responded to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

Judge Glenda Hatchett declined to comment.