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Girlfriend to receive $675,000 settlement in Twin Cities police shooting case

Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, enters the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul on Tuesday, June 6, 2017, before her second day of testifying at the trial of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez. Dave Orrick / St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. ANTHONY, Minn.—The city of St. Anthony has agreed to a second legal settlement over the fatal shooting of ­Philando Castile by one of its police officers. And this time, with its insurance coverage all but used up, any settlement would largely come from city coffers.

The St. Anthony City Council on Tuesday night voted to pay $675,000 to settle legal claims brought by Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her daughter. The pair was in the car with Castile when he was shot to death during a traffic stop by ­then-St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez on July 6, 2016.

Before the unanimous vote to approve the settlement, Mayor Jerry Faust said he hoped it would "open the door to continued healing in our community."

"If we don't approve this and we go ahead with litigation, it would just reopen the whole case again and bring heartache to everyone involved," Faust said. "It is best to settle."

The council's resolution approving the settlement said, in part, that it resolves any claims related to the alleged detention of and use of force against Reynolds and her daughter, and any claims of racial discrimination or emotional distress.

The city has a $3 million "per occurrence" cap on its insurance policy covering such litigation through the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, but a settlement with Castile's family in June used up $2.995 million of that.

That leaves $5,000 to cover the settlement with Reynolds.

Darin Richardson, the Insurance Trust's claims manager, said he expects St. Anthony's liability premium to go up $12,000 annually, starting in 2018, because of the Castile shooting. That number could drop again in three years, assuming there are no more major settlements.

In addition to the $675,000 from St. Anthony, Reynolds and her daughter will separately receive $125,000 from the city of Roseville and the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust, according to a news release issued by St. Anthony after Tuesday night's meeting.

During the meeting, the council held a 15-minute closed-door session to confer with an attorney hired to address Castile-related litigation. That attorney, Joe Flynn, said St. Anthony had been served with a lawsuit, but it had not yet been filed in any court. He added that to his recollection, it did not ask for a specific amount in damages.

The closed-door discussion followed a presentation of the city's new "race and equity plan," as well as a vote approving an agreement with the city of Roseville over how to split federal grant money for new police body cameras.

Reynolds, who was in the passenger seat of Castile's car when he was pulled over by Yanez in Falcon Heights, livestreamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook. Her 4-year-old daughter was in the back seat. The incident triggered protests nationwide.

A Ramsey County jury found Yanez not guilty of manslaughter charges relating to the incident in June; he left the force the following month through a voluntary agreement with the city, taking $48,000 in personal leave pay that was due to him.

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