Deliberations continue in trial of Officer Jeronimo Yanez

Cheryl Sanders
June 19, 2017

Closing arguments are set to begin on Monday in the trial of a Minnesota police officer charged with fatally shooting a black motorist during a traffic stop previous year, the aftermath of which was streamed on social media by the driver's girlfriend.

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 had informed Yanez when the officer approached Castile's vehicle that he was carrying a gun. Castile's gun permit was later found in his wallet.

The jury will begin deliberations on Monday afternoon. Jurors were to return Tuesday morning.

In closing arguments Monday, defense attorney Earl Gray said Yanez, a 29-year-old Latino officer, "did what he had to do" in a justified use of force.

Prosecutors called several witnesses to try to show that Yanez never saw the gun and acted recklessly and unreasonably. He says Castile was high on marijuana and didn't follow Yanez's orders.

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.

Prosecutor Jeff Paulsen highlighted autopsy evidence in his closing argument, reminding 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.

The judge allowed the jurors to review the videos, however, the requests for the transcript were denied.

Paulsen rebutted the defense's argument that Castile ignored Yanez's commands not to reach for his gun.

"They had to go to California to find a guy to testify against Officer Yanez", Gray said.

The judge issued detailed instructions to the jury. Castile is then heard saying, "Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me". Yanez has been charged with manslaughter.

The mother of a black man fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer last July says her son shouldn't have died the way he did.

Paulsen further argued that it would not have made sense for Castile to pull a gun on an officer.

"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".

Attorney Earl Gray gave the defense's closing arguments with conviction.

Defense attorneys have argued that Yanez's actions were reasonable.

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.

In his rebuttal, Paulsen reiterated to jurors that there was no credible evidence Castile was under the influence of marijuana and one can not conclude he was under the influence simply because THC was in his system.

The 12-member jury includes two blacks. There is shouting, and Yanez screams "Don't pull it out!" before he fires seven shots into the vehicle. Officer Jeronimo (yeh-RON'-ih-moh) Yanez is charged with manslaughter in Castile's death, which came just seconds after Castile informed the officer he was carrying a gun. The rest are white, and no jurors are Latino.

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