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Minnesota Police Officer Charged with Manslaughter for Shooting an African-American Man

FILE - A memorial including a photo of Philando Castile adorns the gate to the governor's residence, July 25, 2016, where protesters demonstrated in St. Paul, Minn., against the July 6 shooting death of Castile by police officer Jeronimo Yanez.

A Latino police officer who shot and killed a black motorist in in the midwestern U.S. state of Minnesota was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter, prosecutors said.

St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot 32-year-old Philando Castile during a traffic stop on July 6 in the community of Falcon Heights.

After the shooting, the victim's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, broadcast live images on Facebook of the bleeding victim, slumped in the driver's seat. The girlfriend is heard on the video saying that Castile told police he had a pistol on him and carried a permit for it, and was told to stop reaching for his wallet by the officer. As the man was putting his hands up he was shot "four or five times," according to the woman.

According to reports, Yanez's attorney, Tom Kelly, said his client reacted to the presence of a gun.

Kelly said the officer pulled Castile over because he thought the victim looked like a suspect in an armed robbery case.

Castile's family said he was racially profiled.

Victim was armed

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi told reporters during a news conference that Yanez' use of deadly force was unjustified and noted that while Castile was armed he “never removed or tried to remove” the gun that he allegedly had in his pocket.

At the time of the shooting, the St. Anthony Minnesota Police Department, which covers the community of Falcon Heights, released a statement saying that the officer in question were put on "standard" paid leave, but did not elaborate on the incident.

Interim police chief Jon Mangseth read the brief statement at a press briefing and did not take any questions.

Maximum sentence of 10 years

Second degree manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter, carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years in Minnesota.

Just one day before Castile's death, Alton Sterling, a black man, was fatally shot by police in the southern state of Louisiana. Video of the incident has circulated online and sparked nationwide outrage and protests and vigils in the city of Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana.

Wednesday's announcement also came a day after the one-year anniversary of Jamar Clark's killing — another high-profile police killing in Minnesota. No charges were filed in that case.

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    Aline Barros

    Aline Barros is an immigration reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C. Before joining VOA in 2016, Aline worked for the Gazette Newspapers and Channel 21 Montgomery Community Media, both in Montgomery County, Md. She has been published by the Washington Post, G1 Portal Brazilian News, and Fox News Latino. Aline holds a broadcast journalism degree from University of Maryland. Follow her @AlineBarros2.