U.S.

Minnesota officer charged in Castile shooting goes on trial

Minnesota officer charged in Castile shooting goes on trial

Jeronimo Yanez is facing second-degree manslaughter charges for the shooting death of Philando Castile, 32, who was killed in July 2016 in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights during a traffic stop.

The trial of a Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter for shooting a black man to death previous year is underway. The aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend, who says in the video that Castile had a permit to carry.

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, left, and his attorney Tom Kelly, right, leave the Ramsey County Courthouse, Tuesday, May 30, 2017, in St. Paul, Minn. He'll rule after prosecutors share their position on the issue Wednesday morning.

Jurors acquitted white Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Betty Jo Shelby of manslaughter on May 17 after she testified that she fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed, black 40-year-old, out of fear when he didn't obey her commands.

The aftermath of the shooting of Philando Castile was streamed live on Facebook last July, thrusting his death into the national spotlight.

Jurors were only in the courtroom about 10 minutes, taking an oath and being handed a questionnaire to fill out.

The judge did deny a second defense motion to allow them to go back and question Reynolds about where she and Castile bought marijuana they allegedly smoked the day of the fatal shooting. A handful of people of color were among the panel members.

Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio's Bowling Green State University who tracks fatal police shootings, said convictions of officers are infrequent.

In Minnesota, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced the charges against Yanez in November, saying that "no reasonable officer knowing, seeing and hearing what Officer Yanez did at the time would have used deadly force under these circumstances".




Activists, who protested along with Minnesota residents after Castile's death, said a guilty verdict would be a small victory.

As protesters immediately gathered outside the Governor's mansion, it became clear.

Castile's good friend and former co-worker, John Thompson, said later that he wished the jury had been "a little more diverse".

"Jurors are very reluctant to second-guess the split-second life-or-death decisions of an on-duty police officer involved in a violent street encounter with a citizen", Stinson said.

Jury selection is expected to last multiple days.

Prosecutors have said that Castile was reaching for his wallet when Yanez fired at him.

Reynolds' 4-year-old daughter was also in the vehicle at the time of the shooting.

The graphic video showing Philando Castile's final moments after he was shot by a Minnesota police officer made headlines almost a year ago and led to calls for changes in policing. Jury selection begins Tuesday.

In a statement the day after the shooting, St. Paul Public Schools said Castile was described by colleagues as "a team player who maintained great relationships with staff and students alike". His death was recorded via Facebook Live by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the vehicle with him. As Castile began to retrieve his identification, he told Yanez he was reaching for his ID and not his weapon.


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