Woman ordered to pay back $120k she raised in name of Philando Castile, Black motorist killed by police

Woman ordered to pay back $120k she raised in name of Philando Castile, Black motorist killed by police

A Minnesota woman has agreed to pay back $120,000 of donations she collected in a fund-raiser for Philando Castile, a Black man killed by the police outside the city of St Paul in 2016, a death that inspired a large Black Lives Matter protests in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Pamela Fergus, a former psychology professor at the Metropolitan State University in St Paul, started a fundraiser in 2017 called Philando Feeds the Children to raise money to pay for local children’s school lunches, in honour of Castile, who was a beloved cafeteria worker at a local Montessori school.

According to the Minnesota attorney general’s office, which announced a settlement with Ms Fergus on Monday, the fundraiser collected roughly $200,000 dollars, but could only account for donating about $80,000 to St Paul Public Schools.

Under the terms of the settlement, Ms Fergus does not admit guilt or innocence, but must pay out the remaining $120,000 towards school lunch funds at JJ Hill Montessori, the school where Castile worked.

“Philando Castile cared deeply about the children he served, and the children loved him back,” Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a statement. “Failing to use every dollar raised to help those children was an insult to Philando’s legacy and all who loved him.”

“You should put that money where it’s supposed to go. These things are not for your personal gain. It’s not right,” added Valerie Castile, Philando’s mother.

Former St Anthony, Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Castile in July 2016 during a routine traffic stop, while his girlfriend livestreamed the killing on Facebook as her four-year-old daughter sat nearby. The officer fired on Castile within seconds of the 32-year-old informing Mr Yanez he was reaching for his ID, and that he had a gun he was licensed to carry in the vehicle.

In 2017, the officer was acquitted on charges of manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm, but was fired by the St Anthony police department.

The killing set off large protest in the areal, precursors to the 2020 racial justice protests that following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.