A Minnesota police officer has been charged with second-degree manslaughter over the killing of a black man in a St Paul suburb, prosecutors have announced.
St Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez fatally shot Philando Castile (32) during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6th.
The shooting's aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by Mr Castile's girlfriend, who was with him in the car at the time of the shooting, along with her young daughter.
The woman said Mr Castile was shot several times while reaching for his ID after telling Mr Yanez he had a gun permit and was armed.
Mr Yanez’s attorney, Tom Kelly, has said the officer was reacting to the presence of a gun, and that one reason Mr Yanez pulled Mr Castile over was because he thought he looked like a possible match for an armed robbery suspect.
However, family members have claimed that Mr Castile, an elementary school cafeteria worker, was racially profiled.
Ramsey County attorney John Choi got the case from investigators in late September and began reviewing the evidence for possible charges.
Mr Choi’s office has said a key question in his review was determining whether Mr Yanez was justified in believing deadly force was necessary.
In Minnesota, second-degree manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter, carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.
The shooting prompted numerous protests, including a weeks-long demonstration outside the governor’s mansion and one protest that shut down Interstate 94 in St Paul for hours.
The interstate protest resulted in about 50 arrests and injuries to more than 20 officers, after police said they were hit with cement chunks, bottles, rocks and other objects.
The shooting also exposed the disproportionate number of arrests of black Americans in St Anthony, Lauderdale and Falcon Heights, which are all patrolled by the St Anthony police department.
An analysis of police data showed black people made up nearly half of all arrests made by St Anthony officers in 2016.
Census data shows that just 7 per cent of residents in the three areas are black.
The fatal shootings of black men and boys by police officers in the US have come under heightened scrutiny since the 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and led to calls nationwide for officers to be held criminally responsible.