Trial opens for Minnesota officer in black motorist's death

Olive Rios
June 3, 2017

St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez is on trial for second-degree manslaughter in the death of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights last July.

Each moment of the July 6 exchange was captured on audio from Yanez's squad auto and on video.

But squad vehicle video could emerge as key evidence in the case against St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who goes on trial for manslaughter this week. Jury selection begins Tuesday, May 30, 2017, for Yanez.

A shocking video shot by passenger Diamond Reynolds was instantly posted to Facebook and quickly, the shooting of Castile sparked angry protests at the governor's residence and marches on Interstate 94. Yanez replies, "OK, don't reach for it then" and repeatedly tells Castile not to pull out the gun. A bystander filmed that deadly encounter as well.

In announcing he was charging Officer Yanez with manslaughter, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi read what was said in the moments leading up to the shooting, filling in the gaps of what the Facebook livestream didn't show.

A police officer was pointing his gun through the window.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Paulsen, representing the state of Minnesota, successfully argued that Yanez is not entitled to qualified immunity.

It was here on Larpenteur Ave., a four-lane road that borders the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, that St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez pulled over a 1997 Oldsmobile on the evening of July 6, 2016.

Here's the timeline of the incident based on audio and video recordings, as presented in the criminal complaint against Yanez.

Defense attorney Earl Gray objected to a transcript provided by the prosecution that shows Reynolds making three references to Castile's permit to carry a weapon. Castile responded: "I'm. I'm".

JOHN THOMPSON: You know, for me, I look at the jury and said it's not diverse enough, you know, but can they be fair? Yanez swears and shouts: "I told him not to reach for it!" Yanez yelled, "Don't move!"

Reynolds started live-streaming onto Facebook about 40 seconds after the last shot.

Reynolds: "Stay with me, we got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back". And the police just he's, he's, he's covered. Please, Jesus, don't tell me that he's gone.

YANEZ: Keep your hands where they are please.

REYNOLDS: Yes, I will sir. Reynolds replies that Castile was reaching for his ID, as Yanez requested. "Oh my God. Please don't tell me he's dead". The officer was interviewed July 7 by investigators.

At the time of his death, Castile was a 32-year-old cafeteria worker at the J.J.Hill Montessori Magnet School in St. Paul.

The defense maintains that Yanez shot Castile out of fear for his life after Castile disobeyed his orders not to reach for the firearm Castile had told him was in his vehicle.

"I know he had an object and it was dark", he said. "And he was pulling it out with his right hand".

"You nearly have to take the stand to get his side of the story", Daly said, "Because the side of the story that's going to come across is what's on this video and what [Reynolds] will say. and she's not going to say things that are favorable toward [Yanez]".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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