Yanez Trial: Law Enforcement Should Be Concerned


The jury has ended its first partial day of deliberations without a verdict in the trial of a police officer who fatally shot a black motorist previous year during a traffic stop.

Yanez testified Friday he stopped Castile in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights because he thought Castile looked like one of two men who had robbed a nearby convenience store a few days earlier.

Now, a jury must decide whether Yanez should be convicted of three charges against him: one count of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Castile, and two counts of "intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety" for shooting into a vehicle with Reynolds and her daughter inside. Castile's gun permit was later found in his wallet.

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.

Jury deliberations will continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Earl Gray urged a jury to clear officer Jeronimo (yeh-RON'-ih-moh) Yanez of a manslaughter charge in the July death of Philando Castile. He is among several American police officers facing juries this spring.

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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. Yanez testified Friday that he meant that he didn't know where the gun was "up until I saw it in his right thigh area".

Yanez's backup testified that Yanez told him he saw a gun.

Noting that there was no damage to Castile's pocket or gun, Paulsen said that Castile's finger could not have been on the gun when he was shot. The jury also asked to review the transcript of Yanez's interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but the judge denied the request.

Yanez testified that he believed his life was in danger when he saw Castile grab a gun near his right thigh after he had been ordered not to reach for it. They also argued that Castile had smoked marijuana before the traffic stop and was stoned, which influenced his actions.

Leary instructed the jury to consider each offense that Yanez has been charged with, as well as the evidence pertaining to each, separately. "I did not want to shoot Mr. Castile at all", he replied.

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. While it captures what was said between the two men and shows Yanez firing into the vehicle, it does not show what happened inside the auto or what Yanez might have seen.

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Yanez then fired seven shots.

Defense attorneys highlighted inconsistencies in what is said on her video and in statements later to police.

"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".

They must unanimously agree about whether Yanez was guilty or not guilty on each of the three charges Yanez faces: second-degree manslaughter and two counts of felony risky discharge of a firearm. Five shots hit Castile; two piercing his heart, prosecutors said.

Castile had THC, the high-giving component of marijuana, in his blood when he died.

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

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