The fight for a portion of the $3 million settlement reached in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile escalated in recent days when his father, who is serving a life term in federal prison, filed objections in court and asked for $500,000.
Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, filed a petition in court in late July requesting that after her attorneys are paid, the rest of the money should be given to her — $2 million. The petition, written by attorney Robert Bennett, claimed that Castile’s father was absent from his life, and that he, five half-siblings and other relatives made no claims on any of the money.
Castile’s father, Phelix H. Frazier Sr., disputed claims that he had no communication with his son, who was fatally shot by former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop last year.
“I was totally blindsided by [Valerie Castile’s] lack of compassion for both me and her own daughter, Alysza[sic], and the decision to award herself the entire settlement,” Frazier wrote from a federal penitentiary in Greenville, Ill.
Bennett filed an affidavit Monday in response to Frazier’s July 25 letter saying Frazier ran a heroin trafficking ring described by the Eighth Circuit as “an organized and complex enterprise.”
“Mr. Frazier is surely upset about what happened to Philando,” Bennett’s affidavit said. “But his meager relationship with Philando, hopes of running a successful modular home company, and desire to hire attorneys to help in additional appeals of his sentence do not entitle him to any portion of this judgment — let alone $500,000 — especially in light of what he was convicted of.”
A Hennepin County judge will hear the matter Wednesday morning, and will ultimately approve how the funds will be distributed. Frazier said that Allysza Castile, Castile’s half-sister on his mother’s side, also deserves $500,000 of the settlement.
“[T]his is what my son Philando would have wanted most,” he wrote. “Her share should be placed in a trust fund until such time that she is ready.”
Frazier proposed that Valerie Castile receive $1 million. Attorneys’ fees cost Valerie Castile $995,000 of the $2.995 million settlement.
Allysza Castile signed a declaration of consent on July 20 saying that she approved of her mother’s plan to distribute the money. Castile’s grandfather, two aunts, three uncles and one half-brother from his father’s side signed identical declarations.
No declarations or claims have been filed in court by Castile’s three other half-siblings from his father’s side.
Bennett wrote in last month’s petition that Frazier had no relationship with Castile, and did not disclose to his four children in St. Louis, that he was Castile’s father until “very recently.”
Castile is Frazier’s youngest child, and moved with his mother from St. Louis to Minnesota when he was a child.
Frazier said the claim that he had no communication with his son was “erroneous.”
Bennett contacted Frazier and other relatives earlier this year inviting them to respond with any claims on the money. Only Frazier wrote back, stating in a July 5 letter that Valerie Castile deserved credit for raising their son.
In his July 25 letter, Frazier said he didn’t make a claim on any of the money earlier because he assumed Valerie Castile would share the funds.
“It is not so much that I didn’t ask, but I clearly stated in my previous letter that it was really difficult to assess and assign a monetary value to the loss I feel that I have sustained,” Frazier wrote. “I felt that Valerie, the Trustee, would have made a fair distribution, whatever that may have been, but she did not.”
Frazier said that although he didn’t have the best relationship with his son, he deserved some money for his loss.
“It was not just Valerie’s loss,” he wrote. “On some level I believe I will miss Philando [more] than most because of what we ‘were not’ able to do together.”
A news release in late June announcing the settlement between the city of St. Anthony and Valerie Castile said she plans to use some of the funds to support the Philando Castile Relief Foundation, which was established to help other victims of gun violence.
Yanez was acquitted on June 16 of manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm for fatally shooting Castile, 32, during a July 6, 2016, traffic stop in Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, was in the car and live-streamed the aftermath on Facebook. The video garnered millions of views across the world. Reynolds’ daughter, then 4, was also in the car at the time.