Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Officer Jeronimo Yanez: 'I Had No Choice' but to Kill Philando Castile


St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of risky discharge of a firearm, all felonies.

St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo (yeh-RON'-ih-moh) Yanez is charged with killing Philando Castile following a traffic stop last July in a St. Paul suburb. Yanez shot him seconds after Castile volunteered during a traffic stop that he was carrying a firearm.

Defense Attorney Paul Engh leaves the Ramsey County Courthouse after presenting closing arguments in the case of Jeronimo Yanez in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, June 12, 2017.

Deliberations began Monday afternoon, and will continue first thing Tuesday morning.

Castile looked like a man who robbed a convenience store days earlier, Yanez's attorney Early Gray argued to the jury. He is among several American police officers facing juries this spring.

Prosecutors insisted Yanez never saw a gun and had plenty of options short of shooting Castile, a school cafeteria worker they say was never a threat.

After he shot Castile, Yanez is heard on the squad auto video telling a supervisor variously that he didn't know where Castile's gun was, then that he told Castile to get his hand off it.

Paulsen asked the jury to consider what might have happened if Yanez, when told of the gun, would have stepped back a few feet to better assess the situation.

Paulsen reminded the jury of a bullet wound to what would have been Castile's trigger finger - and that there was no corresponding bullet damage nor wounds in the area of Castile's right shorts pocket, where he carried his gun.

Leary refused a jury request to view a post-shooting video interview with Yanez by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, excerpts of which were read in court. He tells his supervisor that 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. "I did not want to shoot Mr. Castile at all", he replied.

The defense's own use-of-force experts said they think Yanez was right to shoot. Five shots hit Castile; two piercing his heart, prosecutors said.

According to Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who testified on Tuesday, he wasn't reaching for the gun.

For the second-degree manslaughter charge, jurors will decide whether there was "culpable negligence" in Yanez's conduct and if he created "an unreasonable risk" and caused "death or great bodily harm" to Castile.

During the trial, Reynolds said she and Castile had used marijuana, and a subsequent autopsy found traces of the drug in his blood.

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. Clarence Castile, uncle of Philando Castile, leaves the Ramsey County Courthouse in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, June 12, 2017. Castile's vehicle also had a broken brake light.

Reynolds said that as Yanez continued to point his weapon into the auto after firing several shots, she feared for her safety and that of her 4-year-old daughter, who was also in the vehicle.

After the three alternates were excused Monday, the jury consisted of two African-Americans and 10 jurors who appear to be white.

The judge issued detailed instructions to the jury.

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