Minn. Cop Who Shot Philando Castile Heads to Trial

The trial for a Minnesota cop who shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop past year is set to begin.

Now, Yanez, who worked for the St. Anthony, Minnesota, police department, faces trial on charges of second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of risky discharge of a firearm. Authorities later found Castile had a permit to carry.

When Castile was pulled over on the evening of July 6, 2016, the world was able to watch.

The aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile by Officer Jeronimo Yanez was captured on video by Castile's fiancee.

Prosecutors also say Castile was trying to comply with Yanez's orders to produce his driver's license when he was shot.

Jeronimo Yanez is believed to be the first police officer charged with killing a civilian in modern Minnesota history. However, officials had stated that Yanez never laid eyes on the pistol and fired because he knew Castile had a weapon and was alarmed by his behavior. Yanez had also previously asked Castile to produce his driver's license and insurance information. As Castile slumped over, dying, his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, began live-streaming on Facebook.

Yanez's legal team of Earl Gray and Thomas Kelly insisted the deadly force was justified because he reacted to the presence of a gun, not a permit.

JOHN THOMPSON: You know, for me, I look at the jury and said it's not diverse enough, you know, but can they be fair? Stinson said several high-profile cases recently ended in mistrials or acquittals when an officer testified that they feared serious bodily injury or death and had "no choice".

The process of selecting a jury is underway in Minnesota in the trial of a police officer charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting a black motorist.

While the jury panel received orientation, Leary discussed motions filed by Yanez's counsel, including whether to exclude statements made by Reynolds during the shooting or allow Yanez's attorneys to investigate who sold Reynolds marijuana hours before the incident.

USA TODAY reports that jury selection is now underway and is expected to last for a couple of days. "That one-sidedness is 'potentially prejudicial'".

It remains a point of contention whether Yanez ever saw the weapon - his attorneys said he did; prosecutors said he provided conflicting statements about what he saw.

At least two videos are expected to be shown to jurors.

Yanez: "I told him not to reach for it".

KARE 11 reporter Lou Raguse says prosecutors seemed to be ok with the motion, as long as jurors would be instructed not to consider whether or not Castile had a permit.

"Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me", Castile told Yanez about 9:05 p.m. the night of the encounter. Castile says he was not reaching for it, and Yanez screams "Don't pull it out!" before he quickly pulls his own gun and fires seven shots at Castile.

The shooting, along with that of a black man by police a day earlier in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as well as other incidents, fueled public debate in the United States over the use of excessive force by law enforcement against minorities.

Yanez pulled Castile over because his vehicle reportedly had a broken tail light and Castile resembled a suspect in a recent armed robbery.

Yanez interrupted Castile, according to the criminal complaint filed against Yanez.

Evidence of Castile's use of marijuana could be the focus of Yanez's defense. Yanez stopped Castile because he claimed his wide-nose made him a possible suspect in a recent store robbery in the area.

The public outcry included protests in Minnesota that shut down metro highways and surrounded the governor's mansion. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton also injected his viewpoint, saying police likely wouldn't have fired if Castile had been white.

  • Larry Hoffman