Rioting charges thrown out in police shooting protest
Posted January 12
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A judge has thrown out riot charges against dozens of people who blocked an interstate in St. Paul to protest the fatal police shooting of Philando Castile.
About 300 demonstrators walked onto Interstate 94 and blocked traffic July 9 to protest the death of Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria supervisor who was fatally shot by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a July 6 traffic stop in Falcon Heights.
Some of the protesters threw rocks, bottles and other things, injuring 16 police officers. Forty-six adults were charged with third-degree riot, along with misdemeanor public nuisance and unlawful assembly.
Ramsey County Judge G. Tony Atwal said Wednesday that there was no evidence the 46 defendants had thrown anything at police and that simply being at the protest doesn't constitute rioting, according to the Star Tribune (http://strib.mn/2ijp7eo ).
"For example," Atwal wrote in the order to dismiss charges against one of those charged "there are no record facts that (the) defendant threw rocks, cement chunks, rebar, bottles, and other items at law enforcement officers."
Atwal added that evidence still exists to uphold the other charges of public nuisance and unlawful assembly.
The officer who killed Castile has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and other counts. His lawyers have asked that the charges be dismissed.