ST. PAUL, Minn. – Jurors weighing the fate of a Minnesota police officer who killed a black motorist last July his head into their fifth day of deliberations Friday.
Officer Jeronimo Yanez is charged with murder in the death of Philando Castile. Yanez shot Castile during a traffic stop in a suburb of St. Paul after Castile at the height of the officer he was carrying a gun.
On Wednesday, the apparent deadlock jury was summoned to court by the judge and told that the deliberations. Thursday deliberations passed by, with no sudden hearings or requests of the jury to review the evidence.
Some important information about the case:
Yanez pulled over Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, for a defective tail light. Squad-car video of the traffic stop, Castile tells Yanez, “Sir, I must tell you, I have a firearm on me.” Yanez tells Castile not to reach, then fires seven rapid shots at the car, hitting Castile five times.
The shooting got attention immediately because Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond, Reynolds, is online to see its horrifying aftermath on Facebook. Reynolds was in the car with her then-4-year-old daughter.
Yanez, who is Latino, is charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, though sentencing guidelines suggest around four years is more likely. He also faces two lesser counts of endangering Reynolds and her daughter for firing his gun in the car in the near of them.
Central questions of the case or Yanez, 29, saw Castile gun, and whether he acted reasonably. Castile had a permit to carry a firearm, and witnesses testified that in the pocket of his pants when the paramedics pulled him out of the vehicle.
WAITING ON A RULING
All 12 jurors must have a unanimous decision. To condemn Yanez on the manslaughter charge, they must be beyond reasonable doubt that Yanez acted with culpable negligence, which the judge described as gross negligence with an element of recklessness.
While Yanez’s squad-car video shows the shooting from a distance, there is no video showing exactly what happened in the car or what Yanez saw. So jurors are to weigh conflicting data, including Yanez, the testimony of Castile had his hand on his weapon, Reynolds’ testimony that Castile not to reach for the firearm, and the views of external experts in plausible cases for why Yanez whether or not to act reasonably.
THE MOST IMPORTANT EVIDENCE FOR THE PROSECUTION
Yanez statements to a supervisor after the shooting and on the researchers the following day that, on the surface, seem to indicate that he never saw Castile gun. The statements to the supervisor were laid down on Yanez’s squad-car video. That sound was played multiple times on test, as was the video of the recording.
The plaintiffs argued that other evidence shows that Castile could have with his hand on the gun when he was shot. She noticed that one of Yanez the bullets grazed Castile the finger on the trigger and that there is no bullet hole in his shorts, nor any damage of the weapon.
The prosecutors also wanted to Yanez had other reasonable options, such as the order of Castile, his hands on the steering wheel.
THE MOST IMPORTANT EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENSE
Yanez testified that Castile was pulling his gun and ignoring commands to stop. “I was scared for my life. I thought I was going to die,” he said.
He also said that he responded to the way he was trained to do. Asked about the statements he made to the researchers that seemed to indicate that he didn’t see the gun, he claimed that he only meant he did not see it at first.
Defense attorneys argued that Castile was stoned on marijuana, and that it has contributed to the failure to follow the officer’s instructions.
WHAT IF THE JURY CANNOT REACH A UNANIMOUS VERDICT?
The judge would declare a mistrial, and the prosecutor would then decide whether to try the case.
Castile, the mother of Valerie Castile, and has said that they plan a lawsuit. It is common for civil suits to proceed, regardless of the outcome of criminal proceedings, as the burden of proof in civil court is lower than in a criminal case.
A federal investigation into whether Yanez intentionally violated Castile fundamental rights is also possible, but unlikely. Federal civil rights investigations have a higher legal norm and a mistake, a bad decision or a simple negligence is not enough to the federal charges. The federal authorities have said that they are monitoring the state of the investigation, and a federal prosecutor helped with the state of the case.
HIS MISTRIALS UNUSUAL IN SUCH CASES?
Not really. Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University, which tracks fatal police units, composed of information that indicates that almost 40 percent of the cases where officials were charged with murder or manslaughter since 2005 have ended in mistrials or acquittals when the officers testified they feared for their lives.
One such case involved Ray-Tensioning, a former University of Cincinnati police officer. Prosecutors are re-trying him in the killing of Sam DuBose, an unarmed black motorist, during a traffic stop near the campus in July 2015.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, officers of justice decided again Randall Kerrick, a white officer who was charged with voluntary manslaughter for shooting Jonathan Ferrell, an unarmed, black 24 years old. Kerrick shot Ferrell 10 times after Ferrell crashed his car in a suburb and banged on a neighbor’s door looking for help.