Jury re-watches 2 key videos in police shooting of motorist
Published 7:42 am Wednesday, June 14, 2017
ST. PAUL — 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 last July 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.
Both videos 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.