Prosecutors drop riot charges against Castile's cousin

Prosecutors say not enough evidence to get riot conviction

Prosecutors dropped the felony riot charges against a second cousin of Philando Castile Wednesday, saying there's not enough evidence to convict him. 

Louis Hunter was among hundreds of protesters who blocked traffic on Interstate 94 in St. Paul following the fatal shooting of Castile by a St. Anthony police officer last summer. 

Some of the protesters on the Interstate – and an overpass above it – began throwing rocks and construction debris, injuring some officers. Of the 46 people arrested that night, Hunter was the only one who faced felony charges

Why the charges were dismissed

Carver County Attorney Mark Metz said in a statement Wednesday his staff had read more than 100 police reports and watched about 60 hours of video footage from the protests. 

While they saw video of Hunter yelling profanities at police, no footage showed him holding any weapons or throwing anything, Metz says. 

That meant the only evidence against Hunter would be eyewitness identifications, which are some of the most difficult cases to prove. Metz added: 

"Here, the officers were faced with great challenges as they were significantly outnumbered, many protesters and rioters were extremely angry and violent, and the officers' safety was in imminent risk. Thus, inconsistencies existed leading to the State's inability to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt."

Group had urged dropping charges

Hunter, 38, lives in St. Louis Park and is a father of four, the Pioneer Press reports

A group called Support Louis Hunter has been urging prosecutors to drop the charges against him. Last week they rallied in front of the Ramsey County courthouse, while Hunter said he was outraged about his cousin's death but did not throw anything on the night of the protests. 

The Ramsey County Attorney charged the officer who shot Castile with manslaughter but Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted by a jury in June. When Ramsey County prosecutors learned Hunter was related to Castile, they sent the riot charges against him to Carver County for consideration. 

The Support Louis Hunter group plans an event on Friday to celebrate the dropping of the charges.

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