74 Seconds: The trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez | Minnesota Public Radio News


74 Seconds: The trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez

In July 2016, officer Jeronimo Yanez shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in a Twin Cities suburb. The world watched the aftermath, live on Facebook. Yanez was charged in Castile's death. Jurors found him not guilty on all charges June 16, 2017.

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.
  • 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.

    Philando Castile (left) and Jeronimo Yanez (Nancy Muellner for MPR News)
    By Jon Collins and Riham Feshir | MPR News
    St. 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 bullets
    The 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.

    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.
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