The manslaughter trial against Jeronimo Yanez, the Minnesota police officer who was involved in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, ended in acquittal on all charges.
Castile was killed during a traffic stop after officer Yanez noticed a faulty brake light. During the stop, Yanez fired on Castile when he felt Castile was reaching for a gun. The incident’s aftermath was streamed on Facebook live by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was also in the car along with Reynolds’ then four-year-old daughter.
Yanez faced a second-degree manslaughter charge and up to 10 years in prison if he’d been found guilty. He also faced two lesser counts of endangerment to Reynolds and her daughter for firing into the car in proximity to them.
Yanez testified he stopped Castile using the pretext of the faulty light because he thought Castile resembled one of two men who had robbed a nearby convenience store. The officer said that he fired his weapon because Castile was pulling a gun out of his pocket, in spite of Yanez’s commands to stop.
The weapon in question belonged to Castile, who did have a permit for it. Prosecutors argued that Yanez “overreacted” to Castile’s reaching motion and questioned whether Yanez ever saw a weapon.
Several witnesses testified for the prosecution, trying to prove that Yanez acted unreasonably because he never saw a gun. But defense attorneys had witnesses that backed up Yanez’s claim that he saw the gun.
Yanez himself testified that he clearly saw the gun, that Castile ignored commands to stop pulling it out of his pocket, and that Yanez had been “scared to death” of being shot as he thought of his wife and baby daughter.
The 12-member jury got the case on Monday following 5 days of testimony and evidence. They deliberated for approximately 29 hours before reaching the verdict.
When the verdict was read, Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, reportedly stood up and swore aloud, while other family members were visibly weeping. Family members then left the courtroom.
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