Fate of Cop Who Killed Castile in Jury's Hands

Remigio Civitarese
Giugno 19, 2017

Closing arguments were set for Monday in the manslaughter trial of St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, who killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop July 6 in a case that drew widespread attention after Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed the gruesome aftermath on Facebook.

Yanez faces one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of risky discharge of a firearm for endangering the lives of Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter when he fired seven bullets into the vehicle. Castile's gun permit was later found in his wallet.

According to reports, jurors heard testimony from several witnesses and are expected to begin deliberations Monday after final arguments.

Yanez's attorney, Earl Gray, said in closing statements that his client is an honest police officer who "did what he had to do". He urged a jury to clear the officer.

The police video begins in silence as Yanez followed a white Oldsmobile auto driven by Castile on a wide, lightly-traveled road.

That BCA interview does show some discrepancies that the prosecution is depending on - such as Yanez saying he saw an "object" but not definitively saying it was a gun, as he did while on the stand.

Paulsen reminded the jury that a bullet hit Castile in what would have been his trigger finger - but there was no bullet damage around his pocket where he had the gun. Prosecutors highlighted the dashcam video's recording of statements Yanez gave a supervisor soon after the shooting, saying variously he didn't know where Castile's gun was and that he told him to take his hand off it. Yanez testified that he meant only that he didn't see the gun at first.

Castile had the right to be treated like an "ordinary citizen" the night he was pulled over for a broken tail light, prosecutor Jeffrey Paulsen told jurors Monday morning. Castile was courteous, non-threatening and kept his hands in view while Yanez spoke to him, Paulsen said.

Valerie Castile, right, leaves the Ramsey County Courthouse alongside Judge Glenda Hatchett, left, in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, June 12, 2017.

He also contested the state's argument that Yanez should have told Castile that he resembled a robbery suspect from four days prior.

Conviction on the manslaughter charge requires the jury to find Yanez guilty of "culpable negligence", which the judge described in jury instructions as gross negligence with an element of recklessness.

Reynolds said she showed the video because she did not trust police.

After Castile was stopped, Yanez asked him to present his driver's license and insurance card.

Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and with two lesser counts of endangering Reynolds and her daughter for firing his gun into the vehicle near them.

"I told him, 'Don't pull it out, ' " Yanez testified in court, adding that he tried to distract Philando, but "he continued to pull his firearm out of his pocket". The jury deliberated about half a day without a verdict.

Defense attorneys also argued that Castile was high on marijuana.

The jury made a request Tuesday to re-watch both the squad auto video and the Facebook Live video of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, at the hands of Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

The 15-member jury includes two black people. The rest are white, and no jurors are Latino.

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