Nearly a year after Philando Castile was gunned down by a Minnesota cop, the tragedy has played out like so many cases before him. The officer who killed Castile was recently acquitted on all charges, a court decision that resulted in public protests and outrage across social media.
Michael B. Jordan is among those feeling emotionally drained and frustrated over a verdict that has become an all-too-familiar chapter in the stories of Castile, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and more.
“They want us to feel helpless & right now I feel it,” Jordan wrote on Instagram Saturday (June 17). “How do we unify? Where do we turn? What do we do? How do we fight? How do we stand?”
The Black Panther actor also pointed out that while he doesn’t have a solution in mind, he’s joining the fight for “real change.”
“I’m going to be a part of the change, and not just today, everyday until we see real change,” he wrote. “I am Philando Castile.”
On July 6, 2016, Castile was shot five times by Officer Jeronimo Yanez after being pulled over for a broken taillight, last summer. The school cafeteria worker was in the car with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter at the time.
Reynolds captured the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live. In the footage, Castile can be seen bleeding from his wounds. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
During the trial, state prosecuting attorney Jeffrey Paulsen argued that Yanez used unjustifiable “deadly force” against Castile, and “endangered the lives” of Reynolds and her young child.
Defense lawyer, Earl Gray, claimed that Castile, 32, ultimately caused his own death. Gray theorized that Castile would be alive today, were it not for his decision to get “stoned” before driving, and failure to comply with Yanez’s orders not to reach for his firearm.
“The only option [Yanez had] was to pull his gun out and stop the threat [he faced] of death or great bodily harm,” Gray said in court, according to TwinCities.com. “We have proven beyond all doubt that officer Yanez’s conduct was reasonable.”
Following days of deliberations, a Ramsey County jury voted to acquit Yanez, 29, of manslaughter. In reaction to the verdict, Castile’s mother shared a powerful and emotional message to the media about the U.S. the justice system.
“The system continues to fail black people, and it will continue to fail you all,” Valarie Castile said. “My son loved this city and this city killed my son.”