Minnesota officer says motorist had hand on gun when shot

20 June, 2017, 11:48 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Jeronimo Yanez

On Friday - three days after Reynolds took the stand - Yanez confronted jurors, his family and Castile's family in a packed courtroom and described the thoughts and emotions he experienced after pulling Castile over for a broken taillight, learning that a firearm was in the vehicle and allegedly seeing Castile reach for the gun.

It works almost 100 percent of the time-even with clear video evidence-so it's no surprise that the police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile said, "I thought I was going to die", to explain his actions on that fateful day.

"I was able to see the firearm in Mr. Castile's hand, and that's when I engaged him", Yanez told the jury.

He went on to say that Yanez used "due caution" to avoid injury to the two passengers in the auto - Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her 4-year-old daughter - when he stepped to the left of the vehicle and pointed his gun downward before firing.

Yanez walked up to the auto, and he could smell burnt or burning marijuana, he testified.

He told the jury that Castile stared straight ahead and had "total disregard" for the officer's commands to stop reaching for the firearm Castile had just seconds before disclosed he was carrying in the auto.

A former police officer in Mound and Golden Valley who also consults on use-of-force cases told the jury he reached the same conclusion about Yanez's conduct during testimony Thursday.

Testimony ended Friday; closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning.

Officer Yanez now faces charges of manslaughter and reckless discharge of a weapon and is on trial before a jury in Minnesota. He added it would be reasonable to assume Castile's plan was to fire the weapon. Dusterhoft said that was significant because it would have meant Castile had the gun all the way out of his pocket when he was shot.

Castile's girlfriend and four-year-old daughter were also in the auto at the time of the shooting.

Dusterhoft also asked why Yanez failed to tell the officers who responded to the scene about the presence of a gun in the auto as police typically do to ensure everyone's safety.

"The only way you see a barrel is if you see the tip of the gun, and you said it twice". Officer Jeronimo Yanez was asked to clarify audio recorded at the scene.

Emanuel Kapelsohn says it should be whether Officer Jeronimo Yanez reasonably believed that Philando Castile was pulling a gun when Yanez shot him. He also saw Castile in a seatbelt.

"So are you saying (Castile) was trying to pull out the gun and shoot the officer", Paulsen finally asked.

An autopsy found traces of THC, the marijuana component that gives a high, in Castile's system.

Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, live streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.

State prosecuting attorney Jeffrey Paulsen cross-examined the Kapelsohn at length, suggesting he has a reputation for being pro-cop and using "creative" strategies in their defense. He was one of the last witnesses called by the defense Friday and news media from across the country packed the courtroom to listen to his account of the shooting. Kapelson testified earlier that he believed Yanez used reasonable force.

"You didn't say he grabbed a gun", Dusterhoft said.

Castile died, insisting that he hadn't been reaching for his handgun.

Based on Kapelsohn's estimation, the movement takes three-tenths of a second.

Earlier this week, Reynolds testified that she felt she had to record the encounter with Yanez out of fear for her own life.

In this May 30, 2017, file photo, St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez stands outside the Ramsey County Courthouse while waiting for a ride in St. Paul, Minn.

Philando Castile was shot and killed after being pulled over in the Twin Cities.

The St. Anthony police officer faces one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of risky discharge of a weapon in connection with fatally shooting Castile, a black motorist, during a traffic stop July 6 in Falcon Heights.

Defense attorney Earl Gray says they have several witnesses to call Friday before calling Yanez either Friday afternoon or Monday.

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