*Officer Jeronimo Yanez is on trial for the death of Philando Castile, and the killer cop took the stand Friday, (June 9) to recall the tragic moment last summer when he shot Philando while he sitting in his car with his family.
A Facebook live video captured the moment Yanez pointed his gun through the window of Castile’s Oldsmobile. The patrolman’s shouted expletives at his targeted victim and claimed in court that he opened fire because Castile was reaching for a gun.
Now on trail for second-degree manslaughter, Yanez told jurors that the shooting was justified because he had feared for his life.
“I thought I was going to die,” Yanez testified, with a packed courtroom hanging on his every word. “I had no other choice. I was forced to engage Mr. Castile. He was not complying with my directions.”
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According to reports, jurors heard testimony from several witnesses and are expected to begin deliberations Monday after final arguments.
“I thought it went splendid,” one of Yanez’s attorneys, Earl Gray, said of the defense’s two-day case.
As reported by the Star Tribune, 29-year-old Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm in the July 6 shooting of Philando, 32, in Falcon Heights. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her daughter, then 4, were also in the car. Reynolds live-streamed the aftermath.
Yanez testified that he believed his life was in danger when he saw Castile grab a gun near his right thigh after he had been ordered not to reach for it.
Did you want to shoot Mr. Castile? asked Yanez’s attorney, Thomas Kelly.
Yanez began to cry. “I did not want to shoot Mr. Castile at all,” he replied. “Those were not my intentions.”
He testified that four days prior to the incident, he responded to an armed robbery of a nearby convenience store and watched video of two black males pointing guns at a clerk. Officers were instructed to look out for the suspects.
Yanez claims he was parked in his squad car when he saw Castile drive by on July 6. They made eye contact.
“He gave me a deer-in-the-headlights look,” Yanez said. “It’s a trigger.”
Yanez said that gave him “strong suspicions” about Castile, so he concluded Philando was one of the robbery suspects.
Once he pulled over Castile’s vehicle, Yanez said he smelled marijuana as he walked up and he claims to have informed Philando about one of the brake light’s being out. He then asked for Castile’s license and proof of insurance.
As Castile handed over the insurance information, he informed the trigger happy officer that he was carrying a firearm.
“I told him, ‘Don’t pull it out,’ ” Yanez testified in court, adding that he tried to distract Philando, but “he continued to pull his firearm out of his pocket.”
Prosecutors have run with the theory that Yanez’s failure to use the word “gun” to alert responding officers at the scene and his language with investigators indicate that he never saw Castile’s gun, which was later recovered from his right front shorts pocket, per Star Tribune.
Yanez repeatedly used the word “it” and made statements such as, “And, he put his hand around something,” in the conversation with his supervisor and in an hourlong interview with investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) the next day.
“You didn’t say firearm,” Assistant Ramsey County Attorney Rick Dusterhoft said of Yanez’s BCA interview.
“Correct,” Yanez said.
“You didn’t say he grabbed a gun,” Dusterhoft said. “… You didn’t say ‘firearm.’ You said ‘object,’ correct?”
“Correct,” Yanez said. “… My mind was all over the place, because I was under a tremendous amount of stress. It was a firearm.”
“You appear to be unsure of what you saw,” Dusterhoft said a few questions later. “No,” Yanez said, “I was sure.”
It’s standard procedure for killer cops to give conflictig statements and talk in circles when asked to explain the curious killings of black folks.
And while WE (the black collective) don’t expect a jury of his peers to convict him, it’s worth noting that Officer Yanez could be sentenced to 20 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter and two lesser charges. He is among several American police officers facing juries this spring.