Nashville police officer suspended after 'mocking' Philando Castile’s death

Mr Castile was shot four times. Anthony Venable wrote: I would have done five’

 

Rachael Revesz
New York
Saturday 09 July 2016 17:16
Comments
Protestors are calling for justice for Mr Castile and his family
Protestors are calling for justice for Mr Castile and his family

A police officer has been decomissioned after he appeared to mock the death of Philando Castile in the hands of law enforcement.

Anthony Venable of the Metro Nashville police force wrote on Facebook: “Yeah, I would have done five”, referring to the fact that Mr Castile was shot four times through the open window of his car during a routine traffic stop.

Mr Venable, who worked in the department for eight years, told his superiors that his comments were “a form of sarcasm” on his personal social media page, according to a police statement.

Mr Castile, a school cafeteria manager, was shot in front of his girlfriend and her four-year-old daughter after he was asked to show the officer his license and he moved to retrieve it.

His girlfriend Diamond Reynolds addressed the officer, Jeronimo Yanez, while Mr Castile was slumped over and bleeding in his seat, “You shot four bullets into him, sir.”

Ms Reynolds filmed a 10-minute video [Warning: contains graphic content] of the aftermath of the killing via Facebook Live on her phone.

The St Anthony, Minnesota police officers do not wear body cameras.

Diamond Reynolds, Mr Castile's girlfriend, is determined to fight for justice 

Mr Venable, who won one of the department’s Officer of the Year awards in 2014, was suspended on Thursday afternoon after the Nashville police department learned about his comment. He is now under investigation.

“The police department is treating this matter very seriously and took immediate action, regardless of what he claims the context to have been,” police chief Steve Anderson said in a statement.

The Facebook comment came just hours after Mr Anderson had posted a statement concerning the deaths of two black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, by police.

“I am extremely concerned and disturbed by the videos and the accounts we have heard thus far coming from Baton Rouge and Falcon Heights,” said Mr Anderson.

"I ask Nashvillians to please not judge or associate MNPD police officers they may see on patrol, at the scene of a crime, or in a restaurant as having any association or connection."

Mr Anderson said his officers have undergone training to acknowledge “implicit bias”.

“Our training emphasizes the sanctity of human life. Minimizing use of force necessarily begins with proper communication skills, especially in tense and fast moving situations.”

The news comes as the lawyer for Minnesota officer Mr Yanez, Thomas Kelly, said in a statement: “This heartbreaking incident had nothing to do with race. It had to do with the presence of a gun.”

Ms Reynolds said in the live video as her 32-year-old boyfriend lay dying: “He’s licensed to carry, he was trying to get his ID, his wallet out of his pocket and he let the officer knew he had a firearm and was reaching for his wallet.“

Mr Yanez had approached Mr Castile on the driver’s side of the car and opened fire, while another officer, Joseph Kauser, was standing on the passenger’s side. Both officers have been suspended.

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