Representative John Lesch Statement on Verdict in Trial of Officer Jeranimo Yanez

Thankfully, most Minnesotans will never know how it feels to lose a loved one in a violent confrontation. I offer my sympathy to the family and friends of Philando Castile, and to all those who grieve for his loss.  Philando’s death impacted all of us in Minnesota; it is my sincere hope that we all learn from it, and to strive toward a Minnesota where tragedies like this may never affect another family.  Further, we cannot fail to understand the chasm across which different communities of Minnesotans perceive the delivery of justice. Regardless of our own perceptions, the legitimacy of our justice system is as much one of perception as it is of disposition.

Our Minnesota law enforcement officers have tough jobs.  My 17 years of work in the criminal justice system has shown me the hazards, the injuries, and the fear with which they deal throughout their jobs.  With rare exceptions, I know that the men and women in blue with whom I work strongly desire to end tragedies like the one we witnessed in Falcon Heights last summer.  I will pray for the safety of our law enforcement personnel, and I commit to fighting for better training resources which both recognize the split second decisions we demand of our public safety employees, and which bring police closer to the communities they serve.

I commend Ramsey County Attorney John Choi for his brave decision to allow this case to proceed to a jury.  A verdict of one’s peers is the capstone of our constitutionally guaranteed due process  - whether we agree with their decision or not.  I honor the service of the jurors, and I respect the sorrow of my neighbors whose grief lingers unabated.

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