Final arguments set in trial of Minnesota
cop charged in fatal shooting
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[June 12, 2017]
By Todd Melby
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Reuters) - 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 last year, the aftermath of which was streamed on social media by
the driver's girlfriend.
St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez, who was charged
with second-degree manslaughter, was covered nationally and led to weeks
of protests in St. Paul and Minneapolis after he fatally shot Philando
Castile, 32, last July.
Yanez, who pleaded not guilty, testified on Friday in Ramsey County
District Court in St. Paul that Castile disregarded the officer's
commands and began reaching for a firearm he had disclosed he had in his
"I was scared to death. I thought I was going to die," he said in
response to questions from his attorney. "I had no other choice."
The shooting in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, like similar
incidents across the United States, fueled public debate about
appropriate use of force by law enforcement against minorities.
The police video of the traffic stop and the Facebook Live post by
Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who was in the passenger seat
next to him, were played in court Monday. Yanez fired seven shots,
hitting Castile five times, including twice in the heart, prosecutors
Reynolds said last week that she showed the video because she did not
trust police. She testified she was afraid for her 4-year-old daughter,
who was in the vehicle's back seat.
Yanez previously said he was justified in stopping Castile's car because
he resembled a suspect in a convenience store robbery, court documents
said. Castile's vehicle also had a broken brake light.
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Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez, charged in connection with
the shooting death of a black motorist Philando Castile last July,
is shown in this booking photo taken November 18, 2016 in St. Paul,
Minnesota, U.S. Courtesy of Ramsey County Sheriff's Office/Handout
After Castile was stopped, Yanez asked him to present his driver's
license and insurance card. Castile disclosed he was carrying a
licensed handgun. The exchange took just over a minute. Castile's
gun permit was later found in his wallet.
(Reporting by Todd Melby, Writing by Ben Klayman; editing by Grant
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