Creating a safer environment for youth with better trained police officers is the ultimate focus of finding justice in the death of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by an officer earlier this year, his uncle said at a gathering of religious and community leaders Monday.
"For me and my sister and the rest of my family, justice for Philando goes a lot further than just punishing somebody," said Clarence Castile. "Justice for Philando is more to protect young people growing up in our country — not just in Minnesota, but in the whole United States.
"It's also to protect these police officers by educating them and getting them to do their jobs a little better."
Castile spoke at a news conference at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul following a local gathering for Moral Mondays, a movement that originated in North Carolina. The movement is touring across the country challenging faith leaders to fight for social justice issues from police use of force to livable wages to childhood education to environmental justice.
The Rev. William Barber II, the "architect" of Moral Mondays, also spoke, noting that he wore regular clothes instead of his clerical collar to underscore the difference it could make in his safety as a black man.
"I'm dressed down today because I can get shot like this," Barber said. "We are not anti-police. We are anti-assassination on the spot."
Castile, 32, was fatally shot on July 6 by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. The aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, as her young daughter sat in the back seat.
The shooting set off protests across the Twin Cities.
Castile said that his family wants Yanez to be "punished" for his actions. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the shooting, and turned the evidence over to Ramsey County Attorney John Choi's office in late September.
Choi's spokesman, Dennis Gerhardstein, said Monday that the office does not have a timeline for when it will announce a charging decision in the case. Choi has not decided whether he will ask a grand jury to decide if Yanez should be criminally charged for his actions, or whether he will make the call himself.
"I want to see justice, be it through Choi's office, a federal office — it doesn't matter just as long as it's done properly," Castile said. "That's all we want."
Castile said he and Philando's mother, Valerie Castile, have been in touch with Choi's office, but have not received any information about when a decision may be issued. The shooting catapulted them into the role of activist, and both intend to push for legislation and policy changes that will mandate training for police officers in de-escalation and racial bias, Clarence Castile said.
"We got a plan, that's all we got is a plan right now," he said. "Right now, with what's happened to Philando, our name has momentum and people are looking and wanting to do something."