ST. PAUL, Minn. – The murder trial of a Minnesota police officer who shot and killed a black motorist last summer to resume Monday with closing arguments.
Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop last July in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond, Reynolds, poured in the immediate aftermath live on Facebook, which brought the case extra attention.
Here are some of the highlights of the case:
Yanez killed Castile after pulling him over for a broken tail light, July 6. After Yanez approached the car, Castile and informed him that he was carrying a gun. Patrol car video shows him saying: “lord, I must tell you, I have a firearm on me.”
Things escalated quickly from there, with Yanez to open fire for seven seconds later and the capture of the 32-year-old cafeteria worker with five of the seven shots he fired.
Reynolds then took out her phone and started live streaming and tell.
Yanez, who is Latino, is charged with second-degree murder, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and two lesser counts of endangering the safety of Reynolds and her daughter for firing his gun in the car in the near of them.
Prosecutors have multiple witnesses to try to show Yanez acted recklessly and unreasonably.
They repeatedly played the squad car video and pointed out that Yanez never told Castille to “freeze” or stop moving.
Other officers testified that when they were told a driver had a gun, they would order him to put his hands on the steering wheel or the dashboard, that Yanez did not do.
Jeffrey Noble, a use-of-force expert testified there was “no reason” to believe Castile was a threat.
The defence said that Yanez, 29, responded to the presence of a gun and was trained to preserve his own life in the face of imminent danger, pointing out that traffic stops are dangerous and officers have to think quickly. They also asked that Castile was partly the fault of his death, because he was high on marijuana, which prosecutors dispute, and that he is disobedient Yanez the instructions.
The defense of the own use-of-force experts, that they think that Yanez was right to shoot.
GIRLFRIEND OF A KEY WITNESS
Reynolds testified that she began recording the aftermath because she feared for her life and wanted to make sure that the truth was known.
Defense attorneys pointed to inconsistencies in what is said on her video and in the statements made later to the police. Was Castile with his hands up, like she said in her video, or was it just a hand? He grabs his wallet or unbuckling his seat belt? And was that wallet in his right or left back pocket?
They also told me various stories about marijuana in the car, first saying it was her, later said in an interview that she and Castile bought it earlier that day, and finally testified, that it was Castile, who bought him and not her.
THE OFFICER’S OWN WORDS
After he shot Castile, Yanez is to be heard on a patrol car video to tell a supervisor that he did not know where Castile gun was than that he told Castille to get his hand out. He told investigators he saw Castile hand of the form of a C-shaped handle of the type to pick up a thick picked up the gun. Yanez, the back-up testified that Yanez told him that he saw a gun.
Yanez testified Friday that he clearly saw a gun and Castile ignored his commands to stop pulling out of his pocket. His voice choked with emotion as he spoke of “scared to death” and thinking of his wife and daughter in the fraction of a second before he fired.
As for the recording in which he said that he did not know where the gun was, he explained, “What I meant by that I didn’t know where the gun was, until I saw it in his right thigh area.”
Defense attorneys argued that Castile was high on marijuana. But a prosecution expert testified there is no way to tell when Castile last smoked marijuana or he was high.