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Castile mother, governor want citizens involved in police training; Dayton wants grant named after shooting victim

Valerie Castile noted the first anniversary of her son Philando's death Thursday, July 6, at a Minnesota Capitol news conference in which Gov. Mark Dayton announced he wants the new training fund named for her son. Don Davis / Forum News Service1 / 2
Clarence Castile says he will work to help law enforcement officers get better training to deal with people of color. His comments came Thursday, July 6, after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton named him to the Board of Peace Office Standards. He is the uncle of Philando Castile, who died a year earlier after being shot by a police officer. Don Davis / Forum News Service2 / 2

ST. PAUL—Average Minnesotans should be involved in training police officers to deal with tense racial situations, Gov. Mark Dayton says as $12 million heads to police departments across the state.

"It is only by them coming together and working together and recognizing the common cause we all have" that the new training program will be successful, Dayton said Thursday, July 6, the first anniversary of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile by a St. Anthony police officer. "We all need to learn to live together."

Dayton and Castile's mother, Valerie, said Minnesotans must work with police to make changes.

"It needs to be collaborative," Dayton said.

The governor invited the Castile family to a pair of announcements in his Capitol office. One was that he wants the state Peace Officers Standards and Training Board to name the new training grants after Philando Castile. Also, he named Castile's uncle, Clarence, to that board.

Clarence Castile said "things went bad so fast" when his nephew was killed.

The uncle, who recently became a St. Paul reserve police officer, emphasized the need for de-escalation training in how to reduce tensions quickly. He said officers need skills to avoid situations escalating into deadly encounters.

He wants officers trained to "see what is going on before you act." His nephew told the police officer he had a permit to carry a handgun, but there remains a dispute about whether he was reaching for the gun or for his driver's license when the officer fired seven shots into the car 74 seconds after it was stopped.

Valerie Castile said the shooting was a case of "miscommunication" that better training may have prevented.

"At the end of the day, everyone wants to go home," she said. "The police wants to go home and the civilian wants to go home. And if we can combine and work together as human beings that will happen."

Even after the shooting, she said: "I love the police to protect and serve us."

Dayton said before law enforcement departments decide how to spend the training money, a program established in response to Castile's death, they should work with the public.

Dayton, 71, said Minnesota was "more homogeneous" when he grew up in the state. Now, he said, many people other than whites are moving in. "It shows all of us we have a lot more work ahead of us."

People of color, especially, should be involved in designing training, he said.

The governor established a Council on Law Enforcement and Community Relations after the Castile shooting.The council suggested the training program.

Dayton said the issue involves communities across the state, not just in the Twin Cities, and he appointed greater Minnesota people to the council.

On the shooting anniversary, Dayton said evidence he has seen over the past year backs up his initial claim a year ago that Castile would not have been shot if he had been white.

A jury late last month found Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who shot Castile, not guilty.

Valerie Castile stormed out of the courtroom after the verdict was read, and repeated on Thursday that she did not feel justice was served.

However, the victim's mother added: "Was judicial system followed? Yes. Everyone has their own opinion and I can throw the question back at you, do you think justice was served?"

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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