An attorney for Geronimo Yanez, the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, on Wednesday, July 6, said Saturday that the fatal shooting was not racially motivated.
“This had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the presence of the gun that Mr. Castile had,” Minneapolis attorney Thomas Kelly told Time magazine, adding that Yanez is “deeply saddened” for Castile’s family.
“This is a tragic incident brought about by the officer having to react to the actions taken by Mr. Castile,” Kelly continued. “This case has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the presence of a gun.”
On Wednesday, July 6, Castile was in a car with his girlfriend and her young daughter when they were pulled over for a routine traffic stop. According to the Star Tribune, 32-year-old Castile informed Yanez that he was carrying a licensed fire arm before he reached into his back pocket to get his ID.
Yanez shot Castile four or five times, and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, filmed the aftermath in a widely circulated Facebook video.
According to Kelly, Yanez is a “sensitive man” who has been very distressed about the entire incident, and is currently on administrative leave from the St. Anthony Police Department.
Due to the high volume of publicity following his actions, Yanez is not currently living at his home in Vandals Heights, Minnesota.
“I advised him that he should probably remove himself,” Kelly told Time. The attorney also noted that he expects Yanez will not have to face criminal charges.
“His lifelong ambition was to be a police officer,” Kelly said. “He has a great reputation in the community. He stopped regularly to have personal interactions and was generous with his time. He’s anxious to return as soon as that’s approved. We would expect that to happen in the reasonably foreseeable future.”
Castile's shooting came one day after Alton Sterling was shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Five police officers were killed and several others wounded on Thursday, July 7, when a man opened fire at a Dallas gathering being held to protest the police-involved shootings.