Valerie Castile’s attempt to reach relatives who might want part of the $3 million settlement in the death of her son, Philando Castile, yielded only one reply — a letter written by his father from a federal penitentiary where he is serving life in prison.
He didn’t ask for a cent, nor did any other of Castile’s relatives.
“I am trying to deal with the reality of what has occurred,” wrote Phelix H. Frazier, Sr. “… The haunting images of my son taking his last breath as I watched on television. The ultimate indignity was to watch as they dragged him from the car and literally threw his lifeless body to the ground. This lasting image of my last born child the end of my lineage is what I will always remember.”
Frazier made no claim on the $2.995 million settlement reached out of court with the city of St. Anthony in June after one if its then-officers, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted for fatally shooting Castile.
Valerie Castile filed a petition Wednesday in Hennepin County proposing that she be awarded $2 million of the settlement and that the additional $995,000 go to attorneys’ fees. No other relative would receive money under the plan, which will be reviewed for a judge’s approval at a court hearing Aug. 2.
Valerie Castile could not be reached for comment. The petition also noted that she paid all of her son’s debts.
Her attorney, Robert Bennett, wrote in court documents that Frazier didn’t tell Castile’s four half-siblings from his father’s side that he was also Castile’s father until “very recently.” Frazier applauded Valerie Castile for relocating their son from St. Louis to Minnesota and raising him “virtually on her own.”
“Her parenting skills provided him with the direction and discipline to avoid many of the traps that face the average young man,” Frazier wrote. “… She has never done anything but promote a healthy relationship between me and Philando and has, for many years, provided me with a collage of his life.”
In the petition, Bennett, wrote that “Philando Castile’s entire family has suffered profound upset and sadness at his passing and the circumstances under which he was taken from them, [but] none of the other next-of-kin has provided Petitioner with information establishing any meaningful pecuniary loss.”
None of the several aunts, uncles, a grandfather or five half-siblings contacted about the settlement responded, Bennett wrote.
Castile was a father figure to his younger half-sister on his mother’s side, Allysza Castile, but she won’t receive any money because “elements” of her life “are not conducive to her receipt of a large sum of money at this time,” Bennett wrote.
It’s unclear if Frazier and Castile corresponded in any way, or, whether Castile ever visited his father at the federal penitentiary in Greenville, Ill., according to the petition.
Frazier never lived in the same home as Castile and never provided financial or other support for his son, Bennett wrote.
“There was no contact between father and son before Philando’s death, as Mr. Frazier devoted his family attention to his St. Louis family,” the petition said. “Mr. Frazier did not acknowledge his paternity of Philando to the Fraziers in St. Louis until very recently, and that was only after [Valerie Castile] reached out to Philando’s half-sister in St. Louis via Facebook.”
Frazier indicated in his letter dated July 5 that he had hoped to develop a relationship with Castile, who was unmarried and did not have any children, although he was a father figure for his girlfriend’s daughter.
“I always thought that once he got married and had children it would bring us closer,” Frazier wrote. “I also hoped to spend time discussing his future and his perhaps interacting with his brothers and sisters in St. Louis.”
Frazier ended his two-page letter by speaking about Valerie Castile.
“… I will end by again making clear the utmost respect that I have for his mother. … I hope that Valerie can be at peace that she did a fine job and Philando would have continued to make her a proud mother. He never deserved to die in the manner that he did. We lose so much as a result of his very senseless death.
“Thank you Valerie.”
A news release announcing the settlement in late June said Valerie Castile plans to use some of the funds to support the Philando Castile Relief Foundation. “This foundation was established after the murder of Philando to help other victims of gun violence and add some relief as you grieve,” according to the foundation’s Facebook page.
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 livestreamed 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.