The attorney representing Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony, Minn., police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile Wednesday, tells TIME that race was not a factor in the shooting and that Yanez is temporarily not living at home.
Minneapolis attorney Thomas Kelly says that Yanez is “obviously saddened by the death of Mr. Castile, sad for the loved ones, and distressed that deadly force became necessary,” but added that the incident originated because Castile had a gun in the car.
“This had nothing to do with race and everything to do with the presence of the gun that Mr. Castile had,” Kelly says.
Yanez killed Castile following a traffic stop Wednesday. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, recorded the moments following the shooting on Facebook Live. In the video, Reynolds says that Castile told the officer that he was licensed to carry a concealed weapon and had the firearm with him. She said that Yanez shot Castile after he reached for his identification.
Yanez is currently on administrative leave with pay from the St. Anthony Police Department. The officer is currently not living at his home in Vadnais Heights, Minn., north of St. Paul, Kelly says, because of the attention he’s received since the shooting.
“I advised him that he should probably remove himself,” Kelly says.
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which first identified Yanez as the officer who killed Castile, as well as Officer Joseph Kauser, who was also involved in the incident, is currently investigating the incident. Kauser is also on administrative leave.
Kelly says he doesn’t expect criminal charges to be brought against Yanez and expects him to eventually be back on the force.
“His lifelong ambition was to be a police officer,” Kelly says. “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.”
Protesters have called for Yanez to be criminally charged in Castile’s death. John Choi, the Ramsey County attorney, would be the one to decide whether charges will be brought but is awaiting the results of BCA’s investigation.
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