Attorney: Officer 'did what he had to do' in driver shooting

Violet Tucker
June 14, 2017

Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave closing arguments Monday in the manslaughter trial of the Minnesota police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile last summer, before the jury began deliberating his fate.

St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo (yeh-RON'-ih-moh) Yanez is charged with killing Philando Castile following a traffic stop last July in a St. Paul suburb.

Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and with two lesser counts of endangering Reynolds and her then-4-year-old daughter for firing his gun into the auto near them. Castile had a permit for the weapon.

Defense Attorney Paul Engh leaves the Ramsey County Courthouse after presenting closing arguments in the case of Jeronimo Yanez in St. Paul, Minn. on Monday, June 12, 2017. Jurors will return Tuesday morning.

Castile had informed Yanez he was carrying a gun.

"Officer Yanez used deadly force as a first option rather than a last resort", he told the jury.

He said this evidence shows that Castile was "stoned under marijuana" when he was pulled over by Yanez.

Yanez's backup testified that Yanez told him he saw a gun.

Noting that there was no damage to Castile's pocket or gun, Paulsen said that Castile's finger could not have been on the gun when he was shot.

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Yanez was emotional throughout his testimony, claiming that fear overtook him during his exchange with Castile.

After the shooting, the Facebook Live video showed Yanez keeping his gun aimed at Castile while he waited for backup.

Leary III defined culpable negligence in his jury instructions as "intentional conduct that the defendant may not have meant to be harmful, but that an ordinary and reasonable prudent person would recognize as involving a strong probability of injury to others", adding the concept includes gross negligence coupled with an element recklessness.

"The victim in this case was a good man too", Paulsen said, and referred to Castile's job at an elementary school.

During his testimony Friday, Yanez said he saw Castile's hand on a gun. "And now they've been deprived of that role model".

In his rebuttal, Paulsen reiterated to jurors that there was no credible evidence Castile was under the influence of marijuana and one can not conclude he was under the influence simply because THC was in his system. Five of the seven shots he fired struck Castile. The two sides called competing experts earlier who disagreed over whether Castile was intoxicated. There is a gun and there is a threat and if Officer Yanez is convicted or even remains in the system with a hung jury, then there isn't one use of force that couldn't come under the same scrutiny.

After three white alternates were dismissed following closing arguments, the 12-member jury includes two blacks.

Now, a jury must decide whether Yanez should be convicted of three charges against him: one count of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Castile, and two counts of "intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety" for shooting into a vehicle with Reynolds and her daughter inside.

Toward the conclusion of his closing argument, Gray told jurors that if they take in all the facts of the case they'll see that the state "failed miserably". Gray said prosecutors were taking the statements out of context.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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