The black judge who was presiding over the shooting trial of Philando Castile has quietly been removed from the case with little explanation for why.
The Star Tribune reports that attorneys representing St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez requested the removal of Ramsey County District Court Judge Edward Wilson this week without offering any detailed justification for their request.
“We did our research, and based on our research, we chose to remove him,” said Earl Gray, who serves as one of Yanez’s three attorneys. “We felt that we had to remove him. Simple as that.”
The Star Tribune notes that attorneys in the state can “ask for the removal of one assigned judge per case without citing a reason,” and that such requests are automatically granted.
The removal of Wilson is noteworthy because the Castile shooting is already clouded by charges of racism.
The death of Castile, a 32-year-old black man, garnered national headlines earlier this past July when his girlfriend filmed his fatal encounter with police and posted it online. The video showed that Castile was complying with the officer’s commands, and that he had informed Officer Yanez that he was carrying a gun on him so the officer wouldn’t be alarmed if he spotted it.