The city of St. Anthony, Minnesota will pay nearly $3 million to the family of Philando Castile to settle a wrongful death lawsuit, less than two weeks after officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted on manslaughter charges for killing Castile during a 2016 traffic stop. Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker, was shot five times by Yanez during a traffic stop after Castile told the officer he was armed.
The settlement is to be paid to Castile’s mother Valerie Castile, who is the family’s trustee. The $2.995 million settlement will be paid by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, which holds the insurance policy for the city of St. Anthony. The plan for distribution of funds requires approval by a state court.
Attorney Robert Bennett, who is representing Valerie Castile, said a decision was made to move expeditiously rather than have the case drawn out in federal court, a process that would “exacerbate and reopen terrible wounds.” The settlement will also allow the family, the city and community to work toward healing, Bennett said.
The settlement will help benefit the Philando Castile Relief Foundation. Bennett said the foundation’s mission is to provide financial support, grief counseling, scholarships and other help to individuals and families affected by gun violence and police violence.
The Philando Castile Relief Foundation hopes to continue to award an annual $5000 scholarship. Through donations and part of the settlement, organizers hope to establish a permanent endowment to fund the annual $5,000 scholarship. In May, 18-year-old Marques Watson was announced as the first recipient.
Watson intends to study mechanical engineering. He’ll take advantage of a tuition-free offer at St. Paul College this fall and hopes to complete his four-year degree at a historically black college or university. Watson has participated in AVID, a school-based program that prepares underrepresented students for college, since seventh grade. He said he’ll be the first in his extended family to attend college.
Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who witnessed the shooting and posted video seconds after, is not part of the settlement. Reynolds has also hired an attorney, but it’s not clear if she is still planning a lawsuit or has any standing for a federal claim.
A claims manager with the League of Minnesota Cities, said St. Anthony’s insurance coverage is $3 million per occurrence. If Reynolds were to file and win a claim, the city’s remaining $5,000 in coverage would be paid to her and St. Anthony would have to cover any additional money awarded.