4 Years After Philando Castile’s Death, His Mother And Best Friend Continue To Be Agents For Change

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four years ago Monday, a Twin Cities man was shot and killed in front of his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter during a traffic stop.

In July of 2016, former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile in Falcon Heights. Castile told Yanez he was legally carrying a gun just seconds before he was shot several times. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.

Philando Castile (credit: CBS)

Earlier Monday, Philando’s mother, uncle and best friend remembered his life, while celebrating updates to the state’s driver’s manual regarding traffic stops when a person has a gun.

Valerie Castile has tried to come to terms with why her son is no longer alive.

“For whatever reason, we’ll never know the reason, we know the excuse, but we don’t know the reason why my son was shot five times,” Castile said.

Her work to bring about change resulted in new recommendations and additions to the state’s driver’s manual on what drivers with firearms should and should not do during a traffic stop.

Valerie Castile (credit: CBS)

For Philando’s best friend, John Thompson, his death has led to a life of activism.

“I’m being a vessel to my community. I owe it to Philando. I owe it to my friend,” Thompson said.

He has been a leader in the activist community since Castile’s death.

“I want to be the change, I want to be the change that I talk about” Thompson said.

He now wants to take his activism to the Minnesota State Capital. Thompson is pushing to become a State Representative; a lawmaker responsible for change in the state. That was something he promised his mother, who died days after Castile, that he would do.

John Thompson (credit: CBS)

“I promised my mother and Philando that I am going to keep their name alive and I’m going to make them proud of me and the work that I’m doing,” he said. “Look at me. I’m DFL endorsed, man! Like, I’m on my way to do something that, you know, is more powerful than any protest that I’ve ever been to.”

Thompson believes Castile is looking down and helping guide his actions. He continues to work on criminal justice and immigration rights, as well as a just and more equitable education.

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