Jeronimo Yanez, a former Minnesota police officer on trial for fatally shooting Philando Castile during a traffic stop in July 2016, testified Friday he fired his weapon because Castile had his hand on a gun, not his wallet and identification papers.
Yanez was working for the St. Anthony police department when he pulled over Castile on July 6 because he looked similar to a robbery suspect.
Castile's July 2016 killing received worldwide attention when his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the auto with her 4-year-old daughter, live-streamed the immediate aftermath on Facebook. At stake are charges of second-degree manslaughter and two lesser counts of endangering the safety of Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her daughter, who were both in the vehicle when Yanez fired seven rounds at Castile. He testified forcefully Friday that he saw Castile's gun and that Castile disregarded his commands not to pull it out of his pocket.
After he shot Castile, Yanez is heard on the squad vehicle video telling a supervisor variously that he didn't know where Castile's gun was, then that he told Castile to get his hand off it.
Yanez, 29, who is Latino, is charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and with two lesser counts of endangering the safety of Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her daughter for firing his gun into the vehicle near them. I didn't want to shoot Mr. Castile.
Attorneys on both sides delivered closing arguments Monday. "That wasn't my intention", Yanez said, according to local outlet WCCO.
The prosecutor concluded his closing argument by stating that all experts agreed on one thing: use of deadly force doesn't become justified after the fact.
Castile had THC, a component of marijuana, in his blood when he died. Gray hit the issue again in his closing.
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The prosecutor said Yanez's defense team may tell you that the shooting was Castile's fault since Castile had marijuana in his system, but Paulsen said there is no credible evidence that he was actually impaired.
And Yanez saw a gun and feared for his life, Gray added.
The defense's own use-of-force experts said they think Yanez was right to shoot.
Defense attorneys have argued that Yanez's actions were reasonable.
Jury deliberations will continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Reynolds said last week that she showed the video because she did not trust police.
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.
In his final instructions to the jury, Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary III pointed that out - and also defined what the jury's legal standard should be to convict Yanez of the individual charges.