The day former St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted in the death of Philando Castile, musician Mayda Miller revealed that the same officer had pointed a gun at her 27-year-old brother in the same area, in a similar situation, not long before he shot Castile.
The subsequent police report provides some insight into the beleaguered ex-officer's mindset, and the stress he felt, in his last year on the job.
On the night of November 6, 2015, eight months to the day of Castile's deadly traffic stop, James Miller was driving home from a party in St. Paul to his home in St. Anthony Park when he passed Yanez on Highway 280. It was about 9 p.m., and Yanez was parked on the side of the freeway, having just pulled over another driver.
James passed close enough to Yanez that the officer felt a strong gust of wind, according to the police report.
"The vehicle almost killed me," Yanez wrote. "I screamed because I had no place to move as the vehicle screamed by me. I thought that I was going to die."
Yanez ran back to his squad and gave pursuit, lights activated. James failed to pull over, but continued on, swerving in his lane, according to the report.
"I then observed the driver reaching down toward the center counsel [sic] and floor boards of the car," Yanez wrote. "I believed that he was reaching for a weapon and was in fear for my life AGAIN."
James finally came to a stop on a residential street. Yanez wrote that he unholstered his gun and pointed it at the driver, ordering him to stay in the car with his hands up. He was arrested without incident, but police only found a 5-inch pocket knife on him.
"I left the area to recooperate [sic]," Yanez wrote. "I was upset, mad, and terrified that I almost was hit by a vehicle traveling at 60-70 mph. My body would have been mutilated if Miller would have hit me with his vehicle."
A sergeant arrived and volunteered to take custody over James so that Yanez could take some time to relax.
James was charged with 3rd degree DWI. He had no prior history of drunk driving.
Mayda says her brother James has his license back and now works as a cook. To avoid jail time, he paid a fine and took classes. He's currently on probation.
"We're both South Koreans, you know, so we can hold a straight face when things could be going crazy in our heads," she says. "I'm sure he was scared and nervous, but he held it together."
Mayda took acting classes at Central High School in St. Paul with Castile, and performed at his benefit at Central last summer.
"It just reminded me of growing up with this guy and trying to find an identity in high school, trying to be an adult. It was just good memories when I thought about Philando," she says.
"But this tragedy just took me back, and having it hit so close to home with my brother, I was just really scared. I felt lucky that nothing happened to him, because it could have been my brother. It was the same neighborhood, same cop. And to know my brother would never have a gun on him, it was just ridiculous. I couldn't believe it."
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