Jury re-watches 2 key videos in police shooting of motorist in Minnesota

Associated Press

A jury weighing the fate of a Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of a black motorist asked Tuesday to re-watch two key videos.

In their second day of deliberations, jurors returned to court to again see dashcam video captured by Officer Jeronimo Yanez's squad car that shows the shooting of 32-year-old Philando Castile. Yanez shot Castile five times in July 2016 during a traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb, just seconds after Castile informed him he was carrying a gun.

The jury also watched a replay of the video that Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, livestreamed on Facebook beginning seconds after Castile had been shot.

No explanation was given for the request. The jury also requested transcripts of squad car audio and of Yanez's statement to state investigators the day after the shooting, but the judge denied the request because defense attorneys did not agree.

The jury ended the day without a verdict and was to resume Wednesday.

Both videos requested Tuesday were played at trial.

The squad-car video shows a wide view of the traffic stop and the shooting, with the camera pointed toward Castile's car. While it captures what was said between the two men and shows Yanez firing into the vehicle, it does not show what happened inside the car or what Yanez might have seen.

Reynolds' video of the gruesome aftermath of the shooting was shared widely, and included her statements that Castile hadn't been reaching for his gun. Defense attorneys highlighted inconsistencies in Reynolds' statements to investigators to try to raise doubts about her honesty.

In closing arguments Monday, defense attorney Earl Gray said Yanez, a 29-year-old Latino officer, "did what he had to do" in a justified use of force. Prosecutors insisted Yanez never saw a gun and had plenty of options short of shooting Castile, an elementary school cafeteria worker they say was never a threat. Castile had a permit for the weapon.

The squad-car video shows Yanez approaching Castile's car and asking for a driver's license and proof of insurance. Castile appears to give something to Yanez through the driver's side window. Castile is then heard saying, "Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me." Before Castile finishes that sentence, Yanez has his hand on his own gun and is pulling it out of the holster. There is shouting, and Yanez screams "Don't pull it out!" before he fires seven shots into the car.

After the shooting, the video shows Yanez standing at the car window with his gun drawn for some time. Reynold's then-4-year-old daughter, who was in the back seat, starts to get out of the car and is grabbed by an officer. The video then shows other police officers arriving at the scene. Officers direct Reynolds out of the car. Yanez is led away while officers pull Castile from the vehicle and begin CPR.

Yanez moves away from the camera's view, but can be heard talking. He tells his supervisor that he didn't know where Castile's gun was and that he told him to take his hand off it. Yanez testified that he meant only that he didn't see the gun at first. Witnesses testified that the gun was in a pocket of Castile's shorts when paramedics removed him from his vehicle.

Castile had THC, the high-giving component of marijuana, in his blood when he died. The two sides called competing experts earlier who disagreed over whether Castile was intoxicated.

Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, though sentencing guidelines suggest around four years is more likely. He also faces two lesser counts of endangering Reynolds and her daughter for firing his gun into the car near them.

Conviction on the manslaughter charge requires the jury to find Yanez guilty of "culpable negligence," which the judge described in jury instructions as gross negligence with an element of recklessness.

Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, posted a seven-minute video on Facebook, saying her son shouldn't have died the way he did. She said: "We need to just stand in solidarity. ... We need to let people know that we're here."

She condemned the killings of black men by police officers that have happened nationwide and said she prays that the jury will find Yanez guilty on all counts.

"This is no longer about Philando; this is about humanity," she said.

The 12-member jury includes two blacks. The rest are white. None is Latino.

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