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Philando Castile Wrongful Death Civil Suit Wins Fast $3M Settlement

By George Khoury, Esq. | Last updated on

The mother of Philando Castile has settled the wrongful death case stemming from the tragic slaying of her son. The $2.995 million settlement will allow the case to get out of the media spotlight and avoid the deeper probing of a civil murder trial, assuming it gains approval of the court. It will also allow the family to move on more quickly and begin making an impact through the Philando Castile Foundation. The foundation was set up in his honor to aid victims of gun violence and police violence.

Despite the fact that the criminal justice system failed to convict the officer that fired seven rounds into Mr. Castile, quick settlements such as these tend to be viewed as a victory for victims. This is particularly true when the amounts are this large and announced publicly.

Why Settle After Winning?

While Officer Yanez was ultimately found not guilty of manslaughter in criminal court, a civil court would likely have found it much simpler to find guilt. In a civil case, the burden of proof, or the amount of evidence required to prove a case, is much lower than in a criminal case, which uses the "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard.

In a civil case, generally, a plaintiff only needs to prove that their allegations are more likely true than not true. This is called proving a case by a "preponderance of the evidence." Commonly, trial attorneys phrase this as "50.0000001 percent more likely than not true."

Senseless Violence on Video

The video of the shooting of Philando Castile went viral rather quickly. Mr. Castile appeared to have cooperated, and even notified the officer of his permitted weapon. Mr. Castile even announced his actions, as many individuals are taught to do, as a courtesy to traffic officers. However, the officer fired out of fear that Mr. Castile was reaching for his weapon.

It seems odd that a gun would be drawn during a routine traffic stop. It is even less understandable that a taser was not used instead. While a taser still seems unnecessary, at least the likelihood of survival would have been much higher. What's even more surprising was that the officer fired multiple rounds into a vehicle that had a child in the backseat. An additional case is anticipated by Mr. Castile's girlfriend who was present during the killing, but that matter is yet to be filed.

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