74 Seconds podcast: Who was Philando Castile?

Judah O'Hara holds an image of Philando Castile.
Judah O'Hara, 4, a student at J.J. Hill Montessori school, holds a sign with an image of Philando Castile's face at a rally in St. Paul 10 days after Castile's death.
Aaron Lavinsky | Star Tribune via AP

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In July 2016, police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop. Yanez has been charged with manslaughter. Reporters from MPR News will follow the case, beginning with the traffic stop, in a new podcast called "74 Seconds."

Seventy-four seconds is the amount of time that elapsed between the moment Yanez turned on his squad car lights to the moment he fired the seventh and final shot into Castile's car.

Episodes launched May 22, and our coverage continues when the trial begins: On the podcast, on the radio and on our website at mprnews.org/74seconds.

Episode 1: The Driver

It's just after 9 p.m. on a hot summer evening along Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights, Minn. A black man is driving his white Oldsmobile down the suburb's main street. His girlfriend is in the passenger seat, her four-year-old daughter buckled into her carseat behind her. They've got groceries.

Philando Castile
Philando Castile in an undated photo.
Courtesy of Sam Castile

A St. Anthony police officer follows the car, he runs the plates and turns on his lights to pull the Oldsmobile over.

Within 74 seconds, the officer has fired his gun seven times, the driver is dying in the front seat and the world is watching the rest unfold on Facebook Live.

That driver was Philando Castile.

On that July night, his name joined those of other black men and boys killed by police. Their names became chants and their faces became emblems.

But what's different about Castile's case is that the officer who shot him, Jeronimo Yanez, has been charged in his death.

In "74 Seconds," we follow the paths of these two men until they meet on the side of Larpenteur Avenue in Falcon Heights.

First: Meet Philando Castile, the elementary school cafeteria worker whose death was watched by millions.