Trial begins for officer charged with killing Philando Castile

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In a case that will cast Minnesota into the spotlight once again, the trial for St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez is now getting underway.

Yanez, 29, is charged in the the high-profile killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop on July 6, 2016.

Castile, 32, who was driving with his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, was pulled over by Yanez for a broken tail light. Yanez reportedly suspected that Castile was also involved in a convenience store robbery that had occurred a few days prior.

As Castile reached for his ID, he reportedly told the officer he also had a gun. Yanez panicked and shot Castile several times, believing he was reaching for his gun.

Reynolds filmed Castile on Facebook Live, as he lay bleeding and dying, with her four-year-old daughter sitting in the back seat. The incident sparked national outrage, along with mass riots and protests in the Minneapolist-St. Paul area for over a week.

It was announced in November that Officer Yanez would be charged with second degree manslaughter. He will be the first officer charged with killing a civilian in modern Minnesota history.

Jury selection for the trial starts Tuesday and could last several days, before the trial can actually begin.   Yanez is expected to testify in his own defense, and if convicted, faces a potential 10-year prison sentence.

Reynolds’ video footage will be played, as well as yet unreleased video footage where Castile tells Yanez about the gun he has on his possession, but declares he is not reaching for it.

Records show that Castile had been pulled over for traffic violations as many as 52 times in recent years.

When Dennis Michael Lynch conducted a deeper investigation into the case last July, he exposed the fact that Castile and Reynolds were confirmed drug users, and revealed many Facebook Live videos Reynolds had posted where the two were using drugs in the presence of her young child.

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