The police shooting that killed a motorist who informed the officer that he was carrying a gun has ended similarly to many police killings. On Friday (June 16), Minnesota Officer Jeronimo Yanez was found not guilty of manslaughter charges against Philando Castile.
Yanez pulled over Castile, who was driving with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter, in July 2016 in a suburb in St. Paul, Minnesota. Castile, a 32-year-old cafeteria worker, informed Officer Yanez that he was licensed to carry and that he had a gun in the vehicle. Yanez shot Castile after he informed the officer.
NPR reports that Yanez was charged in November with second-degree manslaughter, and two felony counts of intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon. He pleaded not guilty, and after five days of deliberation, the jury acquitted him of all charges on Friday.
In court, Yanez reportedly said he shot Castile because he was disobeying commands and reaching for his gun, and that he was high on marijuana. He also testified that Castile resembled a suspect in a convenience store robbery, according to a report by MPR News. Prosecutors argued that Yanez overreacted and questioned whether he ever actually saw the weapon, while Castile was indeed licensed to carry.
Castile's girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook, narrating what happened as Castile laid dying in his driver's seat. She said in the video that Yanez pulled them over for a broken taillight and that he shot Castile while he was complying with the officer's orders to provide identification. A panicked Yanez yelled into the car that he told Castile to not reach, while keeping his gun still pointed at the inside of the vehicle. The video went viral, prompting protests around the country.
New York Post reports that the 12-member jury included 10 whites and two blacks, and found Yanez not guilty after five days of deliberation.