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Minnesota officer charge in Philando Castile shoot goes on trial

MINNEAPOLIS – The graphic video shows Philando Castile, the last moments of his life after he was shot by a Minnesota police officer made the headlines almost a year ago and led to calls for changes in policing. But another video could emerge as key evidence in the case against St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who goes on trial for murder this week.

Jury selection begins Tuesday and is expected to last at least a couple of days. Important things to know about the case:

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This Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, file photo provided by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office shows St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who prosecutors say shot 32-year-old Philando Castile during a July 6, 2016, traffic stop in Falcon heights, Minn., after Castile told him that he was armed.

(AP)

WHAT HAPPENED?

Castile, who was black, died on July 6, during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. His death received direct attention during the recording of the gruesome aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car along with her young daughter.

Prosecutors say Yanez shot Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria employee, after Castile told him that he was armed. The entire encounter lasted little more than a minute. The authorities later found that Castile had a permit to carry.

Yanez, who is Latino, is charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. He is also charged with two lesser counts of endangering safety by firing his gun in the vicinity of Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond, Reynolds, and her daughter.

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THE EVIDENCE OF THE CASE

The articles of association, Yanez, a fee is required for prosecutors to show that he acted with culpable negligence — that he was reckless and acted unreasonably to the situation. His lawyers have argued Yanez responded to the presence of a gun and had to use deadly force to protect themselves.

Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University, which tracks fatal police units, said the beliefs of officials are rare. Since the beginning of 2005, 81 officers nationwide have been charged with murder or manslaughter. Slightly more than a third were convicted — 15 by the jury and 14 by a guilty plea, Stinson says.

But 39 percent resulted in non-convictions. Stinson says a number of high-profile cases recently ended in mistrials or acquittals when an officer testified that they feared serious bodily injury or death and had “no choice.”

Jurors acquitted white of Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Jo Shelby of manslaughter on 17 May, after she testified that she fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed, black-and-40-year-old, from anxiety when he does not obey her commands. And the new process of the former University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing to the hallway, after his first case ended with a hung jury in November last year. In his first trial, Cocking, who is white, testified he feared for his life when he shot Samuel DuBose, an unarmed black 43-year-old, as DuBose tried to drive away during a July 2015 traffic stop.

“Judges are very reluctant to guess what the fraction of a second a life-or-death decisions of an on-duty police officer involved in a violent street encounter with a citizen,” Stinson says.

Yanez is expected to testify in his defense.

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THE VIDEOS

At least two videos expected to be shown to the judges.

The video is recorded by Reynolds gives a bloody Castile slumped over and groaning in the moments after he was shot. Yanez stands at the window, gun still aimed at Castile. Yanez swears and shouts: “I told him not to get!” Reynolds replied that Castile was for the reach of his id, such as Yanez requested.

The authorities also have audio and video of Yanez, the team of the car that have not yet been made public. The indictment says they show the traffic stop and an exchange of information before Castile tells Yanez: “Sir, I must tell you that I have a firearm on me.” Yanez replied: “OK, don’t reach for it” and repeatedly tells Castile not to pull out the gun. Castile says that he does not reach, and Yanez yells “don’t pull it out!” before he draws quickly his own gun and fires off seven shots in Castile.

Castile groans and says, “I was not to reach for,” says the complaint.

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OTHER EVIDENCE

An autopsy found traces of marijuana in Castile, and defense attorneys have indicated that they will say that he was stoned, not to the officer’s commands and that his actions contributed to his death. The defense plans to bring forward an expert to testify that the presence of THC showed that Castile was drunk. Prosecutors say that they are an expert will testify that such a conclusion cannot be drawn.

Yanez, the lawyers, the jury wanted to Castile the car and the officer of the re-enactment of the shooting, but the judge rejected that.

The court will also not allow the defense to introduce information about Castile’s alleged past marijuana use or his arrest, and driving record, but if the testimony addresses those problems, the defense can ask the judge to reconsider.

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PUBLIC OUTRAGE

Castile to the shooting was one of a series of murders of blacks by the police in the whole country, and the live streaming of the consequences of this attracted even more attention. The public outcry included protests in Minnesota that the exit of the metro highways and around the governor’s mansion. Castile family alleged that he was profiled because of his race, and the shooting renewed concerns about how police officers interact with minorities. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton also injected to make its views known, says the police probably would not have fired if Castile was white.

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