The Minnesota officer who fatally shot Philando Castile was acquitted of manslaughter charges Friday, causing intense public outrage.
However, the National Rifle Association (NRA) was silent in the moments following news of the acquittal, drawing intense criticism and accusations of a racially motivated double standard. Officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in addition to being acquitted of “two counts of intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety,” CNN reports.
Castile, 32, was a legal gun owner who had his gun in the glove box when he was shot on July 6 by Yanez.
Twitter users accused the NRA for using a double standard that only protects the Second Amendment rights of white people.
Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds live streamed the aftermath of the shooting as Castile was dying, which showed Yanez with his gun pointed at the car.
However, there are different accounts of what led up to the shooting. In the Facebook Livestream video Yanez said he thought Castile was going to grab the gun, which he also testified to during the trial. In the video, and on the stand, Reynolds said that Castile was trying to give the officer his license, as instructed, according to the New York Times.
Prosecutors argued Yanez made deadly assumptions that killed Castile and put Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who was in the back seat, in danger. “He was making assumptions and jumping to conclusions without engaging in the dialogue he was trained to have in a citizen encounter like this,” prosecutor Jeffrey Paulsen reportedly said during the trial. “And that’s his fault, not the fault of Philando Castile.”
After the deadly shooting in July, the NRA received backlashfor not immediately making a statement about Castile. The organization often fiercely defends the right to bear arms, and consistently makes public statements after mass shootings.
By asking if the organization was for “equal protection” in a tweet, singer John Legend implied that the NRA was silent in the immediate aftermath because Castile was black.
Two days after Castile’s death the NRA responded with a tweeted statement, calling itself the “nation’s oldest civil rights organization” and promising to “have more to say once all the facts are known.” At the time of publication on Friday, the NRA hadn’t released a response to the verdict.