A Minnesota state board wrongly denied a teaching license to Jeronimo Yanez, the former police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile in 2016, a state court ruled Tuesday.
Yanez, who was acquitted of manslaughter charges in the Castile case, applied for a substitute teaching job in 2020, but was denied. The state board listed the reason for his rejection as “immoral character or conduct,” but a Minnesota Court of Appeals now says that reason is too vague.
“The board’s decision must focus exclusively on Yanez’s conduct and his fitness to be a teacher, not fitness to be a police officer,” the ruling states, adding that any rejection must establish that Yanez “violated moral standards for the teaching profession.”
The shooting of Castile, a black man, inside his car sent waves of protest across the country. Yanez argued that Castile had a firearm and that he feared for his own safety, but Castile was later shown to have a permit for the gun.
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Castile’s girlfriend was in the car with him along with her then 4-year-old daughter at the time of the shooting she and streamed the aftermath of Castile’s shooting live on Facebook. Yanez shot Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker, several times during the incident.
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Following his acquittal, Yanez took a buyout from his former police department and left the force in 2017.
“Since Officer Yanez was not convicted of a crime, as a public employee, he would have appeal and grievance rights if terminated,” the city said in a statement at the time. “A reasonable voluntary separation agreement brings to a close one part of this horrible tragedy. The City concluded this was the most thoughtful way to move forward and help the community-wide healing process proceed.”
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The protests following Castile’s death proved to be only a preview of what Minnesota and the country would endure following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. Floyd’s murder would end in a conviction, however, for the Minnesota police officer in that case, Derek Chauvin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.