US policeman charged with manslaughter after killing black motorist Philando Castile

Mr Castile's mother at his funeral (Reuters)
Mr Castile's mother at his funeral (Reuters)

A Minnesota police officer has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after fatally shooting a legally armed black motorist at a traffic stop.

Jerenimo Yanez pulled over school cafeteria worker Philando Castile for a broken taillight in July. Mr Castile, who was legally permitted to carry a firearm, repeatedly told Yanez he was not reaching for his weapon.

Yanez fired seven shots at Mr Castile, who was travelling with his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter. Ms Reynolds told police her boyfriend had not reached for the weapon, and the shooting was unprovoked.

Mr Castile's family, along with the state's Governor, believe race was a factor in the shooting - a suggestion refuted by Yanez's lawyer.

He claims Mr Castile's weapon provoked the shooting, and Mr Castile's race was not a relevant factor.

Speaking at a news conference, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said "the use of deadly force was not justified".

Mr Choi added "[Mr Castile's] dying words were in protest that he wasn't reaching for his gun" and court records show that he "was not resisting or fleeing, there was absolutely no criminal intent exhibited by [Mr Castile]".

Ms Reynolds streamed the aftermath of the incident on Facebook, drawing national attention to Mr Castile's death and provoking protests against police brutality.

In addition to manslaughter, Yanez faces two additional felony charges for dangerous discharge of his weapon. Together, the three charges carry a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Yanez will be making his first court appearance on Friday (US Central Time).