The former Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Black cafeteria worker Philando Castile in 2016 has been pursuing a teaching career since a jury acquitted him in the deadly traffic stop that was live streamed on Facebook.
The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board denied Jeronimo Yanez’s 2020 substitute teacher application because of “immoral character or conduct.”
But on Monday (Nov. 28), the Minnesota Court of Appeals sided with Yanez in his dispute.
The appeals court instructed the board to reconsider the application because its reason for denial was unconstitutionally vague and to assess it based on Yanez’s fitness to teach–not on his record as a police officer, CBS News Minnesota reported.
In its reassessment, the board must identify specific factors it used to determine whether Yanez’s conduct "violated moral standards for the teaching profession."
"It was obvious the licensing board's decision was wrong. That's why my client appealed and he is pleased with the court's decision. However, my client's priority now is moving on to the next chapter in his life in peace and privacy," Yanez’s attorney Robert Fowler said, according to The Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
On July 6, 2016, Yanez, then with the St. Anthony Police Department, fired seven times at Castile, 33, after the St. Paul elementary school cafeteria supervisor told Yanez that he had a gun in the vehicle, which he had a permit to carry.
Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the car with her four-year-old daughter began livestreaming the shooting's aftermath on Facebook. Five shots hit Castile and two shots lodged in the car. One of them passed through the back set, about 16 inches from where the child was sitting.
The graphic video went viral and fueled ongoing protests against police killings of Black men, including Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Alton Sterling.
Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter, but a jury acquitted him on June 16, 2017. Ten days later, the city reached a $3 million settlement with Castile’s family. Yanez left the police department after his trial amid widespread protests.
Yanez was teaching Spanish part-time at a parochial school when he filed an application in February 2020 to become a substitute teacher.
He appealed to an administrative-law judge after the board denied his application. But the judge also denied his application, citing Yanez’s “racial bias” for profiling Castile and his use of excessive force.
"No school-aged child should have a licensed educator who took the life of a Black man in the way [Yanez] did when he killed Mr. Castile," St. Paul Public Schools Superintendent Joseph Gothard testified at a hearing on Yanez’s application, according to the Star-Tribune.
Castile’s mother said Monday (Nov. 28) that Yanez doesn’t belong in the classroom.
"The community knows about what he did and I don't think the kids would be comfortable even having him there," she said, according to CBS News Minnesota. "We have to think about our children's comfort levels. ... We have to think about those children and the trauma they suffered because of what he did."