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Officer In Philando Castile Case Charged With Manslaughter

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St. Anthony, MN (VN) — On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile, 32, was given conflicting orders during a police encounter, an officer discharged seven bullets into his arm and chest at point-blank range, killing Castile and endangering his girlfriend and her daughter in the backseat.

After an exhaustive review of the evidence, prosecutors have concluded that the officer acted criminally, and they are proceeding with prosecution. Officer Jeronimo Yanez faces three criminal charges pertaining to Castile’s murder.

“Under Minnesota law, the use of deadly force by a police officer is justified only when necessary to protect the officer or another from apparent death or great bodily harm,” said Ramsey County Attorney John Choi. “To justify the use of deadly force, it is not enough, however, for the police officer to merely express a subjective fear of death or great bodily harm. Unreasonable fear cannot justify the use of deadly force. The use of deadly force must be objectively reasonable given the totality of the circumstances.”

Choi is convinced that Yanez was not justified. He does not see evidence that the officer faced apparent death or bodily harm. Yanez fired on Castile without cause. Choi explains the charges that Yanez now faces:

Based upon our thorough and exhaustive review of the facts in this case, it is my conclusion that the use of deadly force by Officer Yanez was not justified, and that sufficient facts exist to prove this to be true. Accordingly, we filed a criminal complaint this morning in Ramsey County District Court, charging Offficer Yanez with second-degree manslaughter in the death of Philando Castile and two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm that endangered the safety of Diamonde Reynolds and the four-year-old daughter… Jeronimo Yanez will make his first appearance in criminal court Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. at the Ramsey County Law Enforcement Center.

Choi explains that there was no sign of criminal intent which would call for the use of deadly force.

“Philando Castile was not resisting or fleeing. There was absolutely no criminal intent on his behalf,” said Choi. He explained that Castile did not attempt to reach for his gun. Choi described the event in detail:

At exactly 9:05 p.m., Castile’s vehicle came to a complete stop, next to the curb—8 seconds after Officer Yanez activated his squad lights. Approximately one minute later, Officer Yanez shot Philando Castile seven times, killing him. Officer Yanez squad car video captured the entire incident, with audio, and subsequent conversations between Officer Yanez and other officers immediately after the shooting.

 

The dash cam video reveals the sequence of events that transpired during this critical minute. Officer Yanez approached Castile’s vehicle on the driver side. Yanez later stated he was aware that Castile was buckled in his seat belt and saw that there was a young child in the back seat and a female passenger in the front seat. Officer Yanez described Castile as initially having his left arm over the steering wheel with both hands in view.

 

Officer Yanez positioned himself facing the driver side window, leaned his head forward, exchanged greetings with Castile and informed him of his break light problem. Officer Yanez also smelled burnt marijuana, but said that he did not mention anything to Castile, so as not to scare Castile or have him react in a defensive manner. As this occurred, Officer [Joseph] Kauser walked towards the vehicle and positioned himself on the sidewalk on the passenger side of Castile’s car.

 

Officer Yanez asked Castile to produce his driver’s license and proof of insurance. Castile first provided him with his insurance card. Castile then, calmly and in a non-threatening manner, informed Officer Yanez, “Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me.”

 

Before Castile completed the sentence, Officer Yanez interrupted and calmly replied, “Okay,” and placed his right hand on the holster of his own holstered gun. Officer Yanez then said, “Okay, don’t reach for it then.” Castile tried to respond but was interrupted by Officer Yanez who said, “Don’t pull it out!”

 

Castile responded, “I’m not pulling it out.”

 

Reynolds also responded by saying, “He’s not pulling it out.”

 

Then, Officer Yanez screamed, “Don’t pull it out!,” and quickly pulled his own gun with his right hand while he reached inside the driver side window with his left hand. Officer Yanez pulled his left arm out of the car and then fired seven shots in rapid succession into the vehicle. The seventh and final shot was fired at 9:06:02 p.m.

 

After the final shot, Reynold frantically yelled, “You just killed my boyfriend.”

 

Philando Castile moaned and uttered his final words, “I wasn’t reaching for it,” to which Reynolds loudly said, “He wasn’t reaching for it!” Before Reynolds completed her sentence, Officer Yanez again screamed, “Don’t pull it out!” Reynolds responded by saying, “He wasn’t!”

 

During this entire incident, Officer Kauser did not touch or remove his gun from its holster. By his actions and his own words, Officer Kauser did not see Castile make any sudden movements, and he was surprised by the gunshots. In addition, Officer Yanez never informed Officer Kauser about the presence of a gun.

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