Girlfriend of black man killed by officer testifies in trial

Attorneys selected a jury Monday for the manslaughter trial of a Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a black motorist. Reynolds livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting to Facebook, helping the case attract national attention and sparking days of protests in 2016.

Fox News reports that behind closed doors on Monday, two important issues were decided before opening statements in trial: the state will be allowed to mention Castile had a permit to carry a gun and the defense will be allowed to bring up marijuana. Reynolds was in the vehicle and livestreamed the shooting's aftermath on Facebook. He also faces two counts of unsafe discharge of a weapon for endangering the lives of Reynolds and her young daughter when he fired in Castile vehicle.

"He has to be proactive", Yanez defense attorney Paul Engh said.

According to the local prosecutor, Castile's last words, as he slouched over bleeding from Yanez's bullets were, "I wasn't reaching for it".

"The operative sentence (in this case) is 'OK, don't reach for it then, '" Engh told the jury, quoting what Yanez said to Castile shortly before shooting him. She cried on the stand after seeing a photo of Castile, whom she described as a kind man. However, she did not talk about what played out. "Officer Yanez's actions led to Philando Castile's death".

And during its opening statements, the prosecution played the dashcam video from Jeronimo Yanez's squad vehicle. Two jurors are black, including an 18-year-old Ethiopian-American woman whom defense attorney Earl Gray had argued didn't understand the criminal justice system well enough to follow the proceedings. Judge William Leary III kept the woman on the jury.

Prosecutors have been approved to show evidence that Castile had a permit to carry a handgun and informed Officer Jeronimo Yanez he was carrying just before he was shot.

The only other minority on the panel is a young black man. Yanez's attorneys say the officer was reacting to the presence of a gun.

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

Defense attorneys said if statements about Castile's permit were allowed, they would argue it was obtained illegally in 2016 because he was allegedly a marijuana user at the time. That part of the process is expected to wrap up Monday morning, with opening statements and witness testimony expected Monday afternoon.

He said Yanez will testify that he saw Castile's hand on the grip.

  • Zachary Reyes