74 Seconds: The trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez
This is the archive of MPR News' live coverage of the trial, starting from the beginning. The newsroom also covered the trial and its aftermath on the air, online and in the 74 Seconds podcast.
Reporters from MPR News will follow the case from the traffic stop last summer when Philando Castile died to the courtroom where Jeronimo Yanez is set to go on trial.
What we know -- and what we don't know -- about those 74 seconds, and the Facebook video that made millions of people witnesses to Philando Castile's final moments.
After Philando Castile's death, people marched, they chanted, they camped out in front of the governor's mansion. But no one was sure what would happen next.
Jury selection begins Tuesday for St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who's charged with manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer.
What you need to know: Police officer goes on trial this week in St. PaulBy Riham Feshir and The Associated PressThe trial for St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez, 29, for the shooting death of Philando Castile begins Tuesday, May 30.Yanez shot and killed Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minn., on July 6, 2016. Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed the aftermath live on Facebook just seconds after Yanez fired his seventh and final shot.Prosecutors say Yanez shot Castile, a 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker, after Castile told him he was armed. The entire encounter lasted 74 seconds. Authorities later found Castile had a permit to carry.Castile's shooting was among a string of killings of blacks by police around the country, and the livestreaming of its aftermath attracted even more attention.The public outcry included protests in Minnesota that shut down metro highways and surrounded the governor's mansion.Castile's family claimed he was profiled because of his race, and the shooting renewed concerns about how police officers interact with minorities. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton also injected his viewpoint, saying police likely wouldn't have fired if Castile had been white.
What are the charges?
Ramsey County Prosecutor John Choi charged Yanez with one count of second-degree manslaughter, alleging that Yanez was culpably negligent in shooting Castile. That charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.
Yanez also faces two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm for endangering Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who were both in the car at the time of the shooting. Each of those charges carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.
How has Yanez pleaded?
Yanez has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
What does the law say?
The statute Yanez is charged under requires prosecutors to show he acted with culpable negligence — that he was reckless and acted unreasonably for the situation. His attorneys have argued Yanez reacted to the presence of a gun and had to use deadly force to protect himself.
Philip Stinson, a professor of criminal justice as Bowling Green State University, has been tracking the number of officers who have been charged with murder or manslaughter from on-duty shootings. Since 2005, just 80 officers have faced manslaughter or murder charges out of thousands of fatal shootings.But even when charges are filed against an officer, the rate of conviction is low, according to Stinson's research. Just 29 of those 80 officers either pleaded guilty or were convicted by a jury, while 31 of the cases ended without a conviction. The rest of the cases are still pending.Stinson said several high-profile cases recently ended in mistrials or acquittals when an officer testified that they feared serious bodily injury or death and had "no choice."Jurors acquitted white Tulsa, Okla., 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. And the retrial of former University of Cincinnati officer Ray Tensing is underway after his first case ended with a hung jury last November. In his initial trial, Tensing, who is white, testified he feared for his life when he shot Samuel DuBose, an unarmed, black 43-year-old, as DuBose tried to drive away during a July 2015 traffic stop."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.Yanez is expected to testify in his own defense. Authorities also have audio and video from Yanez's squad car that haven't been made public.
What have been the major issues so far?
Change of venue
Yanez’s attorneys have filed several requests to move the trial out of Ramsey County, citing media coverage and comments by elected officials, which they argue is skewed against Yanez. Their requests have been denied in district court, the state court of appeals and the state supreme court.But Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary III has left an opening for the defense to file for a change of venue during jury selection.
An autopsy found traces of marijuana in Castile's system, and defense attorneys have indicated they will argue he was stoned, didn't obey the officer's commands and that his own actions contributed to his death. The defense plans to bring forward an expert to testify that the presence of THC showed Castile was intoxicated. Prosecutors say their expert will testify that such a conclusion can't be drawn.
Yanez's attorneys wanted to show the jury Castile's car and have the officer re-enact the shooting, but the judge rejected that.
Castile’s historyThe judge also won't allow the defense to introduce details about Castile's alleged past marijuana use or his arrest and driving record, but if testimony addresses those issues, the defense can ask the judge to reconsider.
What is expected to happen on the first day in court?Prospective jurors are expected to receive a questionnaire that they’ll fill out the first day. After that, jury selection will begin and it could take all week. A spokesperson for the state court information office, Kyle Christopherson, said the trial is expected to last three weeks, in total.
Who's who in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez
The Associated Press
A Minnesota police officer goes on trial this week in the killing of a black motorist that drew additional attention when video of the shooting's aftermath was streamed live on Facebook.
The Driver: Philando Castile
Castile, 32, was a longtime elementary school cafeteria worker who family members described as loving and laid-back. Quick with a high-five for students and always eager to sneak kids extra graham crackers and other treats, Castile was known simply as "Mr. Phil."
- 74 Seconds podcast Episode 1: The Driver
Police had pulled Castile over many times before. Although he had no serious criminal record, The Associated Press examined records that show he was pulled over around 50 times in recent years in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, typically for minor offenses such as driving on a suspended license or without proof of insurance, speeding, driving without a muffler or not wearing a seat belt.
The Officer: Jeronimo Yanez
Yanez, who is Latino, had worked for the St. Anthony Police Department for nearly five years when he pulled Castile's car over.
- 74 Seconds podcast Episode 2: The Officer
He graduated from Minnesota State University-Mankato in 2010 with a degree in law enforcement, and was one of the top in his class. He is married and has one child.
Yanez's chief, Jon Mangseth, defended him in an interview in August as energetic and intelligent, with "a real sound ability when it comes to communicating and relating to people."
At the time, Mangseth was preparing to return Yanez to desk duty. The city quickly reversed course and put Yanez back on leave after community backlash.
The Girlfriend: Diamond Reynolds
Millions of people saw Diamond Reynolds in her live Facebook stream as Castile lay bleeding next to her in the driver's seat. She was praised for her split-second decision to stream the shooting's aftermath and her measured responses to Yanez, who had just fired shots into the car and still had his gun out.
Reynolds told television reporters she recorded the situation because she felt "at the end of the day it was going to be the law enforcement's word over mine."
Reynolds' daughter — 4 years old at the time — was also in the car.
The Partner: Joseph Kauser
Officer Joseph Kauser was standing on the other side of the car at the time of the shooting.
Kauser went to Minnesota State University-Mankato with Yanez, and was also chosen as among the best in their class. A 2010 newsletter shows a photo of the pair together, smiling in their graduation robes.
Kauser has not spoken publicly about the shooting, but is listed as a possible trial witness. The complaint says Kauser told investigators he did not see Yanez's gun until he began shooting.
The Mother: Valerie CastileCastile's mother, Valerie Castile, emerged as a calm voice for change after her son's death. She urged protesters to remain peaceful while also calling on lawmakers to consider improvements in police training, hiring and other issues she felt contributed to her son's death.
"He is the driving force in me to make sure this doesn't happen to another mother," she has said.
She has hired attorneys and plans a lawsuit.
The Prosecutors: Ramsey County Attorney's Office
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi made the decision to charge Yanez. He resisted pressure to step down from the case due to his relationships with police and instead brought a special prosecutor on board to offer an outside perspective. Choi said he wanted to make the call on charges rather than sending the case to a grand jury in the interest of transparency.
When he announced the charges in November, Choi said: "No reasonable officer, knowing, seeing and hearing what officer Yanez did at the time, would've used deadly force under these circumstances."
Choi is not prosecuting the case himself. That will be left to a team of seasoned attorneys from his office and a federal prosecutor who was brought on to assist — all of whom have won high-profile trials.
The Defense: Engh, Gray and Kelly
Yanez hired three prominent Minnesota attorneys — Paul Engh, Earl Gray and Thomas Kelly — who have all handled big cases before.
Kelly represented ex-U.S. Sen Larry Craig, the Idaho Republican arrested after allegedly soliciting sex in a bathroom at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Engh has represented terror suspects in federal court, as well as Tom Petters, a Minnesota businessman convicted of orchestrating a $3.7 billion Ponzi scheme. Gray represented former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper against allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior on a boat.
The Judge: William H. Leary III
Judge William H. Leary III is head of Ramsey County District Court's civil division. Leary, who is white, was assigned to the case earlier this year after Yanez's attorneys asked to have Judge Edward Wilson, who is black, removed.
Minnesota law allows defense attorneys to remove one judge without citing a reason, and Yanez's attorneys declined to say if race was a factor.
Leary worked in private practice for more than two decades before he was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Jesse Ventura in 2002.
In November, Leary issued an order allowing transgender people on medical assistance the right to gender transition surgeries, lifting a decadelong ban by the state. Last fall, he sentenced a man to life in prison with no parole for the killing of a law clerk.
Leary rejected a handful of pretrial requests from the defense, including a change of venue. He also denied their request to let jurors see Castile's car in person and have Yanez re-enact the shooting.
The Police Department: St. Anthony Police Department
The St. Anthony Police Department patrols the Twin Cities suburbs of St. Anthony, Falcon Heights and Lauderdale.
Scrutiny of the 23-member department after the shooting found that its officers had disproportionately arrested African-Americans. Members of Minnesota's black community said the statistics were proof of racial profiling.
Since Castile's death, the department has been working to address concerns about training and diversity, and requested a review of its operations by the Justice Department.
It's rare for a police officer to face charges for killing someone while on duty. But in Minnesota this week, St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez faces charges in the shooting death of Philando Castile.
From Bob Collins' NewsCut blog
It was a short first day in the trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez, charged in the killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last summer. The jury pool of about 50 people is getting the afternoon off to finish questionnaires about their potential as jurors. There's no question on it asking the jurors their race; that's illegal in Minnesota and elsewhere. So reporters were left today to look at individuals and try to figure out race and ethnicity.
Day 2: Lawyers probe potential jurors for biasBy Jon Collins and Riham Feshir | MPR News
St. Paul – She was a white woman in her mid-20s who home-schools her five kids and is in the middle of a high-risk pregnancy. She told the judge that her doctors urged her to keep her heartbeat slow and avoid stress.Given that this was jury selection for what could be one of the most stressful trials ever in Minnesota, she was excused from the jury.She was the first potential juror interviewed Wednesday in the trial of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez. By the time the Ramsey County court stopped for lunch, two more jurors had been excused and two had passed the interviews and will remain part of the jury pool.Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop on July 6. He also faces two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm because Castile's girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter were in the car during the shooting.The trial began Tuesday, when 50 jurors were sworn in by Judge William Leary and given 14-page questionnaires to fill out. One juror was eliminated immediately because she was related to Yanez.On the first day of the trial, all the rows set aside for media and members of the public were packed. There was much more room on the second day, as the court got down to the sometimes monotonous business of interviewing jurors.After the homeschooling mom, the next potential juror was a middle-aged white woman who ran her own business and whose husband was ill. She told the judge and attorneys that she would love to serve on a jury, but would be distracted by concerns about her family and business. She was also excused.The third potential juror interviewed was a young African-American man, who at one point identified himself as a millennial. He told the court that he managed a Wendy's restaurant and planned to go back to college. On the question about what his best or worst experience had been with law enforcement, he'd written, "I don't know." He told the judge that he'd never directly interacted with a police officer.On a question about his opinion on the American justice system, he'd written that "people with power and sometimes money seem to have a better chance at getting away" with crimes. Leary said he was entitled to his opinion, but that he wondered if that opinion could be set aside to consider the facts of the trial. The potential juror said yes.Neither the defense nor prosecutors challenged him, and he was "passed for cause," which means he's still in the running to be included in the jury.The fourth potential juror interviewed was a middle-aged white woman who manages a Holiday gas station in White Bear Lake.Prosecutor Richard Dusterhoft asked extensively about her Facebook page, which she said she used about once a week. She told the attorneys that she mostly shared recipes, and wouldn't have posted on Facebook about issues involving police.She was taken out of the room when Dusterhoft asked to confer with the judge. The prosecutor shared three posts the potential juror had shared on her Facebook page in November that were described as "pro-law enforcement." Dusterhoft said he was more concerned that she hadn't disclosed the posts than the sentiments of them. He asked the judge to excuse her from the jury pool.But when the potential juror was brought back into the courtroom, she insisted she didn't remember the postings, and said she would not hesitate to hold police officers accountable. The judge ruled that she should not be excused from the jury.The fifth juror interviewed, a black woman, said she thought Yanez was careless: "It was a traffic stop, I don't understand how somebody ends up dying in the process." She was excused for potential preconceived beliefs about the case.Yanez on Wednesday wore a dark suit, blue shirt and dark blue tie. He rocked in his chair and folded his hands in front of him as he waited for the hearing to start. In the row set aside for his family and friends, three men in dark suits and one man wearing jeans and a North Face jacket sat.Castile's mother, Valerie, and other family members sat in the front row across from them.
Attorneys on both sides will spend Thursday continuing to whittle the jury from the remaining potential jurors down to 15, which includes three alternates.
So far, five members of the original jury pool have been excused. Five have been questioned and will show up on Friday. Forty remain in the pool to be questioned. The entire trial is expected to last about three weeks.
From The New York Times
Modern jury selection is a dark art practiced by a cottage industry of consultants who promise to sort antagonists from sympathizers using mock trials, questionnaires, exhaustive reviews of social media profiles and even photographs of prospective jurors’ homes.
The scrutiny is likely to be no less intense as jury selection begins this week in two highly publicized police shootings. One, the death of an unarmed black man during a traffic stop in Cincinnati, has already resulted in one hung jury. The other, in which a man’s girlfriend live-streamed the moments after he was fatally wounded in a St. Paul suburb, also during a traffic stop, goes to trial for the first time.
Jury selection began this week in the trial of St. Anthony office Jeronimo Yanez, who's charged in the killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop last July. As with any trial, the goal is to make sure the defendant gets a fair shake.
Day 3: 14 potential jurors move on to next roundBy Jon Collins and Riham Feshir | MPR NewsSt. Paul -- Attorneys on both sides of the trial against Jeronimo Yanez spent their third day in court whittling down potential jurors.On Tuesday, 50 potential jurors were sworn in by Judge William Leary. They were given questionnaires to fill out, and now they have moved into the part of the process in which attorneys question them, one by one, to determine if they'll remain in the jury pool or be excused from the trial.Fourteen potential jurors who have been interviewed will move on to the next round of jury selection, including a biology professor, a construction worker and a college student who immigrated to the U.S. from Ethiopia. They join a Wendy's manager, a night nurse and a prep cook. They've been asked to return to the Ramsey County Courthouse on Monday.Nine potential jurors have been excused, including a woman related to Yanez.One potential juror moving on to the next round told the court Thursday morning that he believes that drugs should be legal, but that it wouldn’t interfere with his responsibility to act fairly as a juror.
Attorneys for the defense challenged the 18-year-old college student from Ethiopia, arguing that she didn’t know about the criminal justice system. But Judge William Leary passed her on to the next round, saying that many teenagers can’t describe how the system works.They also challenged the biology professor, who said he had attended a vigil for Castile the day after he was killed. "I could have a bias, I could admit that," he said.But Leary denied the defense team's challenge, saying that "attending a vigil in and of itself isn't enough to disqualify" a potential juror.At least 23 potential jurors will need to pass the first round of jury selection. Both the defense and prosecution can then strike a number of potential jurors without stating a cause, although it can’t be based on racial discrimination.The final jury will consist of 12 members and three alternates.Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter in the killing of Philando Castile during a traffic stop on July 6. He also faces two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm because Castile’s girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter were in the car at the time of the shooting.
- Related: How juries are chosen
Attorneys on both sides will spend Friday continuing to whittle the jury from the remaining potential jurors down to 15, which includes three alternates.
- The trial: What you need to know
- Who's who in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez
- Full coverage: The death of Philando Castile and the trial of Jeronimo Yanez
As the first week of the trial ends, the jury in the case starts to take shape. Plus: Why choosing a jury for the trial of a police officer is different than for other cases.
Day 5: 'Don't reach for it': Jury sees Yanez squad video; Castile girlfriend on stand TuesdayUpdated: 5:55 p.m. | Posted: 12:45 a.m.By Riham Feshir and Jon Collins | MPR NewsSt. Paul – For the first time publicly, prosecutors in the manslaughter trial of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez played the gripping video from his police squad car dash camera, showing Yanez firing his gun and killing Philando Castile during a traffic stop last July.
The roughly 90-second video came as part of the prosecution's opening statement in Ramsey County court Monday. In the footage, Yanez can be seen going up to Castile's car window and telling Castile he had a brake light out. Less than 10 seconds after Castile tells Yanez that he has a firearm on him, Yanez shoots.
Yanez can be heard saying "OK, OK," as soon as he hears Castile say firearm. The officer tells Castile, "don't reach for it" -- and then things happen very quickly.
He shoots Castile five times; two miss him.
Richard Dusterhoft, criminal division director at the Ramsey County Attorney's Office, said in court that Yanez "didn't tell [Castile] to freeze, he didn't tell him to put his hands up," and that despite being shot twice in the heart, Castile still managed to say, "I wasn't reaching for it."The prosecution also called Anna Garnaas-Halvorson, a teacher from St. Paul's J.J. Hill Montessori elementary school, where Castile was a lunchroom supervisor. She said Castile was dependable and laid back and that she never saw him angry. She said she never knew anything about Castile smoking marijuana. But after being questioned by the defense, she admitted she didn't know what he did after work.74 Seconds podcast: The traffic stop
Defense attorney Paul Engh told the jury that Castile was reaching for a gun in his pocket and the officer feared for his life standing beside Castile's car.Engh said when Yanez initially saw Castile in his car, Castile glanced away and that his movements were “somewhat furtive” and suspicious.“He’s trained to preserve himself in the face of imminent danger, in the face of a gun,” Engh said of his client. Castile’s death was a tragedy for his family and for Yanez personally, but that a tragedy does not equal a crime, he added.
He said the court will hear that Yanez was a good cop, came from humble beginnings and is "trained to go home at the end of the night." Pointing out Yanez's family in the courtroom, the lawyer noted that Yanez's wife is expecting a baby.
Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6. He also faces two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm because Castile's girlfriend and her then 4-year-old daughter were also in the car at the time of the shooting.
Earlier Monday, a total of 15 jurors, including three alternates, was assembled. The jury appears to be made up of 13 white jurors and two black jurors, including an 18-year-old woman of Ethiopian descent that Yanez's attorneys unsuccessfully tried to strike. There are nine men and six women.
Judge William Leary also ruled Monday that the fact Castile had a legal gun permit can be used in court. The court also agreed to allow evidence that marijuana was found in Castile's car and in his bloodstream but not allow testimony analyzing the toxicology results from Castile's blood.
Yanez's attorneys had asked the judge to cut references in videos to Castile having a legal gun permit. Defense attorney Earl Gray last week argued that Yanez could not have known whether Castile had a legal permit at the time of the shooting and so the fact that he had a permit wasn't relevant. He also noted that Castile didn't explicitly tell Yanez he had a permit for a gun.
Prosecutors had countered that Castile never had time before Yanez shot to tell the officer he had a permit.
Leary had previously signaled he was leaning toward not allowing the mention of Castile's firearms permit and telling the jury not to worry about whether Castile had a legal permit to carry or not.
Besides allowing the mention of a legal permit, Leary on Monday also said attorneys had agreed to allow in evidence the fact that marijuana was found in Castile's car and his bloodstream. However, testimony analyzing the toxicology results from Castile's blood will not be allowed.The defense has repeatedly tried to insert Castile's alleged marijuana use into the trial. They've argued in the past that he was "negligent" in his own death because they say an autopsy showed he had THC in his system at the time of his death. Prosecutors say Castile was compliant and didn't show any signs of impairment during his interaction with Yanez.What's nextCastile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, took the stand Monday but will testify in depth starting Tuesday. She and her 4-year-old daughter were in the car when Castile was shot. Reynolds posted the bloody aftermath on Facebook Live.
Called by the prosecution, she said she’d shared an apartment with Castile in a high crime area on St. Paul's east side and that he'd carried a gun to protect himself and his family. She spoke of Castile’s close relationship with her young daughter and started to describe what they’d done on the day of shooting, but was cut off at the end of the day.
In our latest podcast episode, the jury is seated, the defense and prosecution have made their opening statements, and the first of the witnesses take the stand.
Day 6: Castile’s last words: ‘I can’t breathe,’ girlfriend tells juryTuesday, June 6, 2017Updated: 5:15 p.m. | Posted: 12:46 a.m.By Jon Collins and Riham Feshir | MPR NewsSt. Paul – Shot five times, twice in the heart, Philando Castile struggled to utter last words as he lie dying: "I can't breathe."That was a fragment of the emotional testimony Tuesday of Diamond Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend and a passenger in the car during the traffic stop that ended with St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez shooting him. Reynolds, her 4-year-old daughter in the back seat, streamed the aftermath, live on Facebook.Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing Castile during the Falcon Heights stop on July 6, 2016. He also faces two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm because Reynolds and her daughter were also in the car at the time of the shooting.Testimony Tuesday featured Reynolds and Joseph Kauser, Yanez's former partner who was on patrol that night and the second officer at the scene. Later in the day, jurors also listened to apparently conflicting descriptions of how Castile's gun was ultimately discovered by police that night.'I wanted everyone to see'Reynolds took the stand first Tuesday morning. She was shown the dashcam video from Yanez's squad car and Reynold's Facebook Live video. She wept at some points into the microphone as she recounted what happened that day, saying she “felt broken, hurt, confused, lost" after Castile was shot.Asked why she live-streamed the shooting's aftermath, she said, "I know that people are not protected against the police … I wanted everyone to see, that if I died in front of my daughter, everyone would know the truth."Yanez's defense attorney brought up marijuana use that day by Reynolds and Castile. Their marijuana use has been a focus of the defense, which has argued that Castile was negligent in his own death because he had delayed reactions to Yanez's commands.74 Seconds podcast latest episode: The dashcam and Diamond Reynolds
Reynolds acknowledged she'd smoked marijuana almost daily for three or four years, and that she often smoked with Castile. The defense asked if the marijuana Reynolds had smoked on July 6 was "good," or potent. She said it was not.As they were being pulled over by Yanez that day, Reynolds said her heel hit a bag of marijuana under her seat and that she didn't know it had been in the car before or if Castile had bought it. She later clarified that it was not a bag but a closed Mason jar.She insisted there was no marijuana smell in the car when Yanez pulled them over. (Kauser later testified he did not smell marijuana during the stop.)Reynolds also testified that Castile was reaching for his seat belt when Yanez shot him, although her earlier statements to investigators indicated he was going for his wallet. She also acknowledged that she received about $20,000 from a GoFundMe effort following the shooting but said the Castile family had shut down the campaign.Before the encounter that left Castile dead, Reynolds suggested it had been a normal day."We were going to meet up, go get dinner. I was going to cook him a birthday dinner and we were going to relax at house," she told the jury. Castile's 33rd birthday would have been the following week, July 16.Reynolds, Castile and Reynolds' sister and daughter had gone grocery shopping that afternoon. Reynolds testified that Castile had stayed in car while she and sister went into store: "He was a very patient man," she told the jury before the defense cut her off.How was Castile's gun discovered?Testimony late in the day raised a small but potentially important question about exactly how Castile's gun was found.A Roseville police officer who came to the scene said the gun slid out of Castile's shorts pocket as he was being loaded onto backboard and that he didn't even have to reach into the pocket to retrieve it.However, a St. Paul paramedic testified that he saw an officer pat down Castile. Then saw him reach "deep" into Castile's shorts pocket to remove the gun. He didn't specify which officer.'Keep their hands in my view'Kauser, the other officer at the Castile stop, began testifying after Reynolds finished. In his initial testimony Tuesday, he spoke largely of police technique. He said he's been trained in the use of force and was also an instructor. He spoke of the “sanctity of life" and de-escalation techniques."If feasible, you should give a warning" before using or attempting to use deadly force, he noted. When a driver tells him he has a gun permit, he said he asks whether they're carrying and the gun’s location. "I would like to keep their hands in my view to make sure they're not reaching for it."When questioning focused on what happened at the stop, Kauser said he believed Castile resembled the description of a suspect sought in a local robbery, which was the reason Yanez chose to stop Castile's car. Kauser described Yanez as "very honest individual" and "laid back and good with people."Under defense questioning Kauser said that Yanez followed procedure during the shooting and "did what he was supposed to in that situation."Still, he said he was surprised by the shooting, didn't know what Castile was reaching for and didn't see Castile make any quick movements.Kauser, who’s no longer with the St. Anthony police department, told the jury he didn't have his squad cam on during the Castile stop and that Yanez's cam was the only video of the shooting. As prosecutors replayed that video for him, Kauser acknowledged that "I didn't feel threatened at that point where I was standing."
He said it looked like a normal traffic stop before the shooting and that he didn't see anything that alarmed him. The Yanez squad video shows him retreating out of the frame of the video when shooting starts.What's next
A supervisor with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's Crime Lab is expected to again take the stand Wednesday morning.
On the second day of testimony, two of the witnesses closest to the shooting -- Diamond Reynolds and police officer Joseph Kauser -- take the stand.
Day 7: Prosecution's police expert rips Yanez for deadly force in confronting Castile
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Updated: 5 p.m. | Posted: 12:05 a.m.By Jon Collins and Riham Feshir | MPR NewsSt. Paul -- St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez’s decision to shoot Philando Castile during a July traffic stop was an “excessive” and “inappropriate” use of deadly force, the prosecution’s use-of-force expert told the court Wednesday afternoon.Jeffrey Noble testified Yanez’s response was not reasonable given the situation in front of him. Police officers are often put in dangerous situations, and seeing Castile reach down to his side, without seeing a gun, was not enough of a threat to respond by shooting, he added.As dashcam video of the incident was replayed, Noble noted that Yanez didn't tell his partner or other officers who came to the scene that he’d seen a gun. "If there is a gun present, their safety is at risk,” he said. Noble also argued that a reasonable officer would've given loud commands to Castile to stop, freeze and put his hands up before shooting.Noble also criticized Yanez’s decision to stop Castile’s car that day because he believed Castile's nose resembled that of a suspect in a recent convenience store robbery. Castile was “simply a black man who drove by a convenience store” days after a robbery, Noble said, adding, "a wide-set nose is simply not a distinctive feature.”The defense did not challenge many of Noble’s statements but questioned his experience. He worked in law enforcement for 28 years but has not consulted in many criminal cases, although cases involving deadly force and police officers are rare. Noble said he’s consulted on at least three such criminal cases.Noble insisted that he saw no sign of Castile's impairment in the video despite the presence of THC, the chemical compound found in marijuana, in Castile's blood.Defense attorney Tom Kelly asked if believing that Yanez saw a gun was reasonable. Noble responded "unreasonable," which drew laughs from Castile's supporters in the room.Testimony shows Reynolds, daughter inches from bulletsThe afternoon testimony followed a morning of mostly technical testimony in Yanez's manslaughter trial. A Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension analyst revealed how close the traffic stop came to having more casualties: Shots Yanez fired at Philando Castile nearly hit Castile’s girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter.
Yanez fired seven shots into the car during the stop where he said he believed Castile was reaching for a gun. Five hit Castile. But one bullet fired by Yanez was found embedded in the car's center console, an inch or two from the edge of the passenger seat, where his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds sat.
Another bullet was found in the back, about 16 inches from the child's car seat where Reynolds' daughter sat, BCA supervisor Lindsey Garfield told the court.
- 74 Seconds podcast latest episode: Yanez's partner testifies
Garfield, who was on the scene collecting evidence after the shooting, said she could not smell marijuana in the car at the scene.A bag of marijuana was inside a Mason jar in the car, but the lid was not on. The BCA didn't test the contents of an ashtray in Castile's car, but Garfield said it looked like cigarettes. The agency also noted that both side back brake lights on Castile's car worked, but the center brake light in the back window was not working.Marijuana use by Castile and Reynolds has been a focus of the defense, which has argued that Castile was negligent in his own death because he had delayed reactions to Yanez's commands.A toxicologist Wednesday testified that there was no way to determine when someone has last smoked marijuana from postmortem blood draw. Under defense questioning, the toxicologist said that among its effects, marijuana can cause confusion and the inability to follow orders.Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter for shooting and killing Castile during the Falcon Heights stop on July 6, 2016. He also faces two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm because Reynolds and her daughter were also in the car at the time of the shooting.Prosecutors during the morning session also introduced photo of Yanez in uniform after the shooting as well as the torn and bloody insurance card of Valerie Castile, Castile's mother, in Yanez's uniform pocket.Although Yanez fired seven shots, Andrew Baker, chief medical examiner for Hennepin, Dakota and Scott counties, said Castile ended up with 10 gunshot wounds, including four in the arm, three in the chest, one in the hip and one in the right index finger.Castile had two "non-survivable" wounds to his heart, Baker said, adding: "There's nothing surgeons could have done."Before Baker testified, Judge William Leary twice warned the crowd in the court that the medical examiner photos were graphic and they could leave if needed. No one left.
Day 8: Defense expert: Shooting Castile was Yanez’s only choice; Yanez to testify FridayThursday, June 8, 2017Updated: 5:30 p.m. | Posted: 10:45 a.m.By Jon Collins and Riham Feshir | MPR NewsSt. Paul – St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez’s decision to use deadly force against Philando Castile during a July traffic stop was justified, his defense’s use-of-force expert told jurors Thursday.Joseph Dutton, a former Mound and Golden Valley cop, said Yanez did everything right that day and that he had no other option after Castile told him that he had a firearm and did not immediately obey the officer’s commands."There wasn't time to do anything else,” Dutton said.Dutton’s perspective came a day after the prosecution’s expert ripped Yanez for what he called an “excessive” and “inappropriate” use of deadly force after viewing squad dashcam video of the incident. Yanez’s lawyers indicated Thursday that Yanez will take the stand Friday in his own defense.Under questioning from prosecutor Jeffrey Paulsen, Dutton acknowledged that in the three criminal cases involving police use of force where he’s been an expert witness, he’s always agreed with the police officer.Asked why he didn't mention in his written report the comments made by Castile and his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, captured on Yanez’s squad cam, that he wasn't reaching for a gun, Dutton replied they weren't “relevant to my report.”When Paulsen asked why Yanez didn’t tell any officers on the scene that he’d explicitly seen a gun, Dutton said he believed Yanez saw a gun because he later described Castile’s hand in a shape like the letter C.Where was the gun?Dutton’s remarks came at the end of a day that included Yanez character witnesses who told of his kindness over the years, as well as testimony from police officers and other first-responders who arrived at the scene after Yanez shot Castile.St. Paul firefighter and EMT Juan Cortez was helping colleagues as they worked to get a wounded Philando Castile ready to be rushed to the hospital when he heard a metal clanking sound. Then he heard one of the officers on scene say, "gun."He turned and saw Castile's gun in the officer's hand, but he couldn't answer a key question: how it got there. He said he did not see anyone pat Castile down. Cortez clarified that didn't mean it didn't happen, but he didn't see it.Cortez was the first defense witness called by lawyers for St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who faces second-degree manslaughter and weapons charges for shooting and killing Castile during a July traffic stop.Cortez's description was one of several accounts explaining parts of the discovery and location of Castile's gun after the shooting. Roseville police officer Grant Dattilo testified later that he was helping give medical support to Castile, putting him on a backboard, when he said he saw the handle of the gun sticking out of Castile's right front pocket.Later in the day, Roseville officer Zachary Wiesner testified he saw the gun slide out of Castile's pocket when he was being put in back board.Another witness during the trial testified previously that he saw an officer pat down Castile while he was on the ground and reach deep into his pocket to retrieve a gun.Judge rejects call to acquitThe defense on Thursday called on the court to acquit Yanez on all counts, arguing the prosecution's case didn't offer sufficient evidence to convict and didn't delve deeply enough into Yanez's state of mind at the stop. The statute Yanez is charged under requires prosecutors to show he acted with culpable negligence — that he was reckless and acted unreasonably for the situation.The defense has argued that Yanez had a legitimate fear for his life after Castile told him he had a weapon in the car and didn't respond quickly enough to the officer's commands to not move.Judge William Leary denied the motion to acquit.The defense also called Yanez's boss, St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth, who testified to Yanez's character. He said he chose him for the crime prevention team and that he's good with the community and sometimes acted as the department's voice at events. He testified that Yanez has no disciplinary problems in his record, and no citizen complaints that he knew of.He didn't specifically discuss the traffic stop where Yanez killed Castile. He said he's never seen the video from Yanez's squad camera showing the confrontation, which was played earlier in the trial.Mangseth talked generally about police use of force. He said he teaches officers to be safe and make sure to go home at the end of the night. "When all else fail ... ultimately in a use-of-force situation, it's whatever it takes," he told jurors.Under cross-examination by the prosecution, Mangseth said in theory if he is making the traffic stop and someone tells him that they may be armed, or he has a permit to carry, then he also asks to see their hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel and to ask where the gun is.There's been no evidence presented that Yanez followed that guidance at the Castile stop.Under prosecution questioning, Mangseth agreed that you don't teach officers to shoot someone just because they're carrying a firearm or just because their hand is out of sight.St. Anthony police officer Jeremy Sroga, who has worked as a use-of-force instructor for the department, told defense attorneys that use of force would be justified in a situation where an officer knew there was a gun and someone was not following orders.
Under prosecution questioning, he said a motorist disclosing that they have a firearm isn't threatening and that he'd next order them to show their hands.Marijuana questions returnIn afternoon testimony, Yanez's defense returned to the issue of Castile's marijuana use. Yanez's attorney's have argued that Castile was negligent in his own death because he had delayed reactions to Yanez's commands because of the marijuana in his system.Defense toxicology expert Glenn Hardin testified that he had "no hesitation" saying that Castile was under the influence of marijuana when Yanez pulled him over, and that drivers in that condition aren't able to react to situations they find on the road.But under prosecution questioning, Hardin agreed that effects of marijuana vary widely and that postmortem testing for THC, a chemical compound found in marijuana, isn't well documented. Prosecutors have argued Castile was compliant at the stop and didn't show any signs of impairment during his interaction with Yanez.On Thursday, prosecutor Paulsen quoted several studies critical of THC testing after death. Hardin said he did not consider them in his opinion.Saying 'gun' or 'firearm'?The defense also called on James Diehl, the firearms instructor who trained Castile in a 2015 permit-to-carry class. Diehl noted it’s illegal to use marijuana and carry firearms, which is why he doesn’t include it in his training materials.He said he usually teaches people with a permit that, if stopped, to tell the officer first that they have a permit to carry, and then explain whether they’re carrying and the location of the gun."The reason why you'd say that is that you don't know where the officer is coming from,” he said, “Mentioning that you have a firearm before you mention that you have a permit could change the officer's attitude."Under cross-examination, Diehl acknowledged that his training materials don’t specify that order and that telling the officer you have a firearm is going beyond what the law requires. It’s also not required to tell an officer you have a permit.Saying the word “firearm” rather than “gun” is a good thing, he added, noting that the word gun could be alarming.Editor's note: The EMT who testified Thursday said he first saw Castile's gun in the officer's hand after hearing a clanking sound. The story has been updated.
- The trial: What you need to know
- Who's who in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez
- Full coverage: The death of Philando Castile and the trial of Jeronimo Yanez
By the fourth day of testimony, the prosecution has rested, the defense has moved for acquittal and we expect to hear soon from Jeronimo Yanez himself.
Day 9: 'I thought I was going to die': Yanez tells jurors; defense restsFriday, June 9, 2017Updated: 6:45 p.m. | Posted: 12:01 a.m.By Jon Collins and Riham Feshir | MPR NewsSt. Paul – St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, on trial for killing Philando Castile during a July traffic stop, took the stand Friday, telling jurors he was forced to shoot Castile because he was not complying with the officer's commands and was reaching for a gun."I didn't want to shoot Mr. Castile at all," said Yanez, who choked back tears at times during his testimony. "I thought I was going to die," he said, adding that images of his family rushed into his mind. "I had no other choice."Yanez's testimony offered some of the most gripping moments of the entire trial. It was the first time the officer had spoken publicly since the shooting.Recounting the encounter, the officer initially pulled Castile, 32, over that day because he said the driver bore a resemblance to a suspect in a local convenience store robbery days earlier. After pulling him over, he said he got a good look at Castile but wanted to do more investigation, so hadn't ruled Castile out as the suspect.Yanez, who faces second-degree manslaughter and weapons charges, said he didn't remember looking at the insurance card Castile handed him, but did remember clearly that Castile said, “'Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me.'”Asked what went through his mind when he heard "firearm," Yanez replied, "It changes the dynamic of the traffic stop. It puts the officer on high alert.”Yanez, 29, testified that he was compelled to shoot after he saw Castile's right hand in a C-shape, eyes straight ahead, and that Castile pulled a gun out of his pocket far enough so the gun slide could be seen.He acknowledged he did not give Castile detailed commands after telling him not to reach for the gun.“You didn't tell him to stop. You didn't tell him to put his hands up. You didn't tell him, don’t move.” asked prosecutor Richard Dusterhoft. Yanez answered "No."Dusterhoft questioned Yanez on why he didn't explicitly say that he saw a "gun" after the shooting or the next day at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension interview. Yanez admitted he used qualifiers when talking about the firearm, and said when he told investigators "it" or "object" that he was referring to the gun.Exactly where Castile's gun was at various times in the encounter remains a question.
Roseville police officer Grant Dattilo testified Thursday that he was helping give medical support to Castile, putting him on a backboard, when he said he saw the handle of the gun sticking out of Castile's right front pocket. Later in the day, Roseville officer Zachary Wiesner testified he saw the gun slide out of Castile's pocket when he was being put in back board.A St. Paul firefighter paramedic has testified that he saw an officer pat down Castile while he was on the ground and then reach deep into his pocket to retrieve the gun.The prosecution tried to point out inconsistencies in Yanez's statements on whether he saw the gun. He said he was under tremendous stress.Dusterhoft pointed out that Yanez told state investigators that he saw the "barrel" of the gun.On Friday, Yanez said he meant the back portion of the slide."You said barrel, you said it twice," Dusterhoft said. Yanez insisted he meant slide and handle of the gun.While trying to explain how he got confused between the barrel and the slide of the gun, Yanez asked to show the jury himself. He stood up with the weapon and pointed out the section of the gun he testified that he'd seen.The defense rested its case on Friday. Closing statements and jury deliberations will come Monday.Yanez attorney Earl Gray said he thought the trial went "splendid." The Castile family's civil attorney said the family would not comment until after the verdict.The final exhibit of evidence introduced in the trial was video taken in the backseat of a squad car as an officer brought Diamond Reynolds home the morning after the shooting.Reynolds, Castile's girlfriend who was in the car during the shooting along with her 4-year-old daughter and had live streamed the aftermath, was crying and saying that she had not groceries or money for groceries. “This is so embarrassing,” she said.
Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Chris Olson testified that he'd given Reynolds $40 that night, which contradicted a statement from Reynolds earlier in the trial. Under prosecution questioning, Olson said he'd only told Reynolds that Castile had died about an hour before she was taken home.'Reasonable force'Earlier in the day, a use-of-force expert testifying in Yanez's defense said if an officer believes a suspect is pulling out a gun -- even if he doesn't see it -- responding with deadly force is justified.Yanez "did use reasonable force," and took action like a reasonable officer, Emanuel Kapelsohn told the court, adding that officers can "possibly" be justified in shooting even in cases where person pulls out wallet or other item mistaken for gun.
Kapelsohn was the defense's second use-of-force expert to call his shooting of Castile justified. Earlier this week, the prosecution's expert ripped Yanez for what he called the officer's "excessive" and "inappropriate" use of deadly force after viewing squad dashcam video of the incident.Kapelsohn testified that he bought same shorts as Castile had been wearing that day (in a larger size) and was able to take the same gun out with just a thumb and forefinger. He also said he timed how long it would take to be sitting in a car, take the gun out and shoot. He said he calculated the time at less than a third of a second, a time shorter than cops could react.Prosecutor Jeffrey Paulsen later pressed Kapelsohn on why Yanez said he didn't know where the gun was if he saw it, and why he didn't tell responding cops that there was gun.Paulsen also disclosed that before sitting down with Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators, Yanez had already been told that a gun had been recovered at the scene.Kapelsohn also acknowledged that Yanez could have given clearer orders, adding, "officers are not perfect."Asked why he omitted statements from a dying Castile and his girlfriend that Castile wasn't reaching for the gun. Kapelsohn replied he didn't think it was necessary.What's next
- 74 Seconds podcast episode: The prosecution rests, the defense begins
Closing arguments from the defense and prosecution come Monday. Jury deliberation will also begin.
Day 10 | ‘He’s not lying,’ Yanez attorney tells court; case goes to jury
Monday, June 12, 2017
Updated: 1:55 p.m. | Posted: 12:45 a.m.
By Jon Collins and Tim Nelson | MPR NewsSt. Paul – “He's got a gun. He might be the robber. He's got marijuana in the car.”That’s what was running through St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez’s head in the moments before he shot and killed Philando Castile during a July traffic stop, Yanez’s attorney told the court Monday in closing arguments in Yanez’s manslaughter trial."You can't sit in these chairs and 20/20 vision officer Yanez,” attorney Earl Gray told the jurors. Castile, he said, “was spaced out. He was staring straight ahead. He was stoned. He was in no condition to be carrying a loaded gun” when Yanez pulled him over.
Yanez, facing manslaughter and other felony charges tied to Castile's death, told the court on Friday that he was forced to shoot Castile because the driver was not complying with the officer's commands and was reaching for a gun. Yanez previously testified he’d stopped Castile because the driver resembled a suspect in a local convenience store robbery days earlier.Prosecutors, however, say Yanez never saw Castile’s gun, never told officers who responded to the scene or to his police dispatcher that there was a gun and shot recklessly, killing Castile.Yanez could have asked Castile to keep his hands in sight, asked where the gun was or retreated behind his squad car. Instead, “he pulls out his own gun and without any warning, without saying stop, without saying stop or I'll shoot, he fires seven rounds,” prosecutor Jeffrey Paulsen said in his closing argument.Gray argued that Yanez did hear Castile say he wasn't going for a gun, but said officers look at actions, not words."He's not lying. He said he thought he was going to die,” Gray said of his client. “Why else would he do this?”'You have to be sure before you shoot'Earlier in the day, prosecutor Paulsen told jurors that Yanez's early statements after he shot Castile show the officer never saw Castile's gun.
- Document: Final jury instructions
"Yanez was the only one in this entire case who says Castile pulled a gun from his pocket,” Paulsen said, adding that Yanez was to blame for the incident and was "not the victim.”
Paulsen said Yanez admitted that he wasn't listening to Castile or Reynolds saying that Castile wasn't reaching for the gun because he'd developed "tunnel vision," and was getting nervous. "Everyone on both sides of this case agrees," Paulsen argued, "that being nervous is not a reason to shoot and kill someone."
Castile, he added, "did what he was supposed to do" in courteously disclosing that he had a gun. Castile had no reason to pull a gun, Paulsen said, adding that he was "just a man driving home from the grocery store with his family."
Paulsen said it was Yanez who wasn't listening to Castile. "He was making assumptions and drawing conclusions and not engaging in a dialogue with a citizen as he was trained to do … you have to be sure before you shoot. He wasn't even close to being sure."
The case has gone to the jury for deliberation. After the three alternates were excused, the jury consisted of two African-Americans and 10 jurors who appear to be white. They must unanimously agree about whether Yanez was guilty or not guilty on each charge.
Day 11 | Yanez jury asks judge for another look at Castile shooting videos
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Updated 10:45 a.m. | Posted 12:24 a.m.By Riham Feshir | MPR NewsJurors weighing the fate of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez on Tuesday asked the judge to let them review dashcam video that shows Yanez shooting and killing Philando Castile at a July traffic stop.Judge William Leary allowed the jurors to view in court the video from Yanez’s squad camera as well as the Facebook Live video shot by Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds showing the aftermath of the shooting, which was shared worldwide on social media.As jurors saw the videos again in court, some took notes. One juror appeared to be wiping away tears as she watched the Reynolds video, particularly the frames where Castile is groaning and his bloodied white T-shirt is visible.While Leary allowed the footage to be replayed, he denied jurors' request to have transcripts of the squad video brought to the jury room as part of the deliberations. He also denied them a transcript of the interview Yanez gave to Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigators following the shooting. The judge didn’t offer an explanation.Yanez, facing manslaughter and other felony charges tied to Castile's death, told the court on Friday that he was forced to shoot Castile because the driver was not complying with the officer's commands and was reaching for a gun. Yanez previously testified he’d stopped Castile because the driver resembled a suspect in a local convenience store robbery days earlier.Prosecutors, however, say Yanez never saw Castile’s gun, never told officers who responded to the scene or to his police dispatcher that there was a gun and shot recklessly, killing Castile.After the three alternates were excused Monday, the jury consisted of two African-Americans and 10 jurors who appear to be white. They must unanimously agree about whether Yanez was guilty or not guilty on each of the three charges Yanez faces: second-degree manslaughter and two counts of felony dangerous discharge of a firearm.In his instructions to jurors, Leary emphasized the solemnity of the role of the jury: "The responsibility that rests upon you should be borne courageously and without fear or favor. Be fair and act honestly. Deliberate without prejudice, bias or sympathy and without regard to your own personal likes or dislikes. We will await your verdict."
The jury is about to go into its third day of deliberations. And while the Twin Cities waits for a verdict, a St. Paul police commander explains his department's layered approach to handling large groups and tense moments.