The manslaughter trial for the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer began Tuesday with jury selection and a motion by the defense to exclude statements about Castile's permit to carry a firearm.
The man killed was Philando Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school lunch room worker who had a handgun in his pocket and a permit to carry.
Now, Yanez, who worked for the St. Anthony, Minnesota, police department, faces trial on charges of second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of risky discharge of a firearm.
His attorneys have argued Yanez reacted to the presence of a gun and had to use deadly force to protect himself. Jury selection begins Tuesday in what's believed to be the first time a Minnesota police officer has been indicted for shooting a civilian while on duty.
But Judge Leary denied the motion weeks later and made a decision to keep the trial in St. Paul, finding that Yanez failed to show that there is a "reasonable likelihood" a trial in Ramsey County would be unfair.
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"The typical case is a white cop killing an unarmed, usually black suspect", said Richard Frase, a professor of criminal law at the University of Minnesota and co-director of the Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice.
Yanez is expected to testify in his defense. "I don't think it would have", Governor Mark Dayton said shortly after the shooting.
The video recorded by Reynolds shows a bloody Castile slumped over and moaning in the moments after he was shot.
MATT SEPIC, BYLINE: Here on Larpenteur Avenue, a four-lane road that goes through the Twin City suburb of Falcon Heights, police officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled over a 1997 Oldsmobile on the evening of July 6.
Prosecutors have said that Castile was reaching for his wallet when Yanez fired at him. Yanez draws his gun with right hand while reaching inside driver's window with left.
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After Castile was stopped, Yanez asked Castile to present his driver's license and insurance permit. Castile says he was not reaching for it, and Yanez screams "Don't pull it out!" before he quickly pulls his own gun and fires seven shots at Castile.
Gray argued Tuesday that the defense is skeptical of Reynolds' claims because Yanez says he could smell burnt marijuana when he approached the vehicle.
Castile moans and says, "I wasn't reaching for it", according to the complaint.
Yanez's attorneys wanted to show the jury Castile's vehicle and have the officer re-enact the shooting, but the judge rejected that.
Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary, overseeing the case, ruled last week that the defense attorneys are not allowed to bring up past marijuana use but are allowed to show evidence about marijuana allegedly used by Castile the day of the shooting. Prosecutors say their expert will testify that such a conclusion can't be drawn. Gray also said that Castile's permit was invalid anyway since he falsely stated on a 2015 permit application that he was not a marijuana user.
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Activists, who protested along with Minnesota residents after Castile's death, said a guilty verdict would be a small victory. John Thompson was Castile's friend and watched as the prospective jurors took their seats today.