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 a year ago, the aftermath of which was streamed on social media by the driver's girlfriend.
St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged with second-degree manslaughter after he shot and killed Philando Castile, 32, in July in an incident that drew national attention and led to weeks of protests in St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Jeronimo Yanez, 29, said that after Castile informed the former St. Anthony, Minnesota, cop that he had a licensed firearm in the vehicle, he told Castile not to reach for it. Yanez said that he saw Castile, 32, reaching for his gun in his pocket and reacted.
Paulsen rebutted the defense's argument that Castile ignored Yanez's commands not to reach for his gun.
Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds' video of the gruesome aftermath of the shooting was shared widely on Facebook.
The Star Tribune reports that the jury of five women and seven men, including just two people of color, received the case at 1:10 p.m. local time Monday.
Conviction of the officer's manslaughter charge requires the jury to find Yanez guilty of "culpable negligence", which the judge described in jury instructions as gross negligence with an element of recklessness. A faulty brake light gave the 29-year-old officer a legally sufficient pretext for pulling him over, several experts testified.
The judge denied the jury's request to get transcripts of squad auto audio and of Yanez's statement to investigators the day after the shooting. The officer's conduct was reasonable, he said. Defense attorneys highlighted inconsistencies in Reynolds' statements to investigators to try to raise doubts about her honesty.
Yanez's attorney, Earl Gray, reminded the jury of the officer's testimony that Castile looked like a man who robbed a convenience store four days earlier.
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Gray said Yanez had plenty of justification for shooting, because he thought Castile was a robbery suspect. He said Castile disregarded the officer's orders and reached for his gun because he was stoned on marijuana.
"You didn't say firearm", Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Rick Dusterhoft said of Yanez's BCA interview.
Castile had THC, a component of marijuana, in his blood when he died. He also alluded to testimony from defense witnesses who portrayed Yanez as a good and honest man.
A jury will soon be deliberating the fate of a Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in last July's fatal shooting of a black motorist.
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Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend, didn't just watch her boyfriend die slowly right next to her.
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.
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.
Yanez resorted to deadly force "before he was sure", Paulsen said. Jurors were to return Tuesday morning. He urged a jury to clear the officer.