Published: Tue, June 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Defense to call more witnesses in cop's manslaughter trial

Defense to call more witnesses in cop's manslaughter trial

St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez will take the stand Friday afternoon, or earlier, lawyer Earl Gray said after the trial adjourned Thursday.

St. Anthony officer Jeronimo Yanez says he saw Philando Castile's gun before opening fire.

The defense called an expert Thursday who testified that Yanez used "justifiable deadly force" in shooting Castile, who had informed him that he was carrying a gun.

Yanez was parked in his squad vehicle when he saw Castile drive by on July 6 and they supposedly made eye contact where he got "strong suspicions" about him. Yanez said he had "strong suspicions" that Castile was one of the suspects, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune.

Video from Yanez's squad vehicle dashboard camera showed that he approached the driver's window while Kauser went to the passenger side and told Castile of his defective taillight.

Defense attorneys have argued Castile was stoned at the time of the shooting, which happened in the seconds after he informed Yanez that he was carrying a gun. He says he clearly saw the metal of the gun before he fired seven shots, hitting Castile five times.

Testimony ended Friday; closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning.

The shooting became known across the nation because the aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend.

He was the second use-of-force expert to testify on behalf of the defense.

Yanez's defense attorneys also called Emanuel Kapelsohn, a use force expert and president of The Peregrine Corporation, to evaluate Yanez's "reasonableness" in using deadly force against Castile in the July 6, 2016, incident.

Kapelsohn couched his opinion by saying ultimately it would be up to the jury to decide if Yanez was telling the truth about actually seeing Castile's hand on the gun during the traffic stop.

Yanez then told Castile not to reach for the gun. Castile had a permit for his gun, and prosecutors have sought to portray him as being cooperative when he volunteered to Yanez, "Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me". "He'd be remiss in not doing so", Kapelsohn said.

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"He had total disregard for my commands", Yanez said.

At some point, he read a portion of one of Yanez's statement to BCA agents when the officer said he was "getting nervous" during the traffic stop because Castile continued to move his hand and asked Kapelsohn to respond.

He also questioned why he failed to give Castile clear commands, such as "don't move", or telling him to keep his hands on the steering wheel as officers are trained to do when they learn a driver has a firearm, especially if they become concerned about the person's movement.

Yanez's testimony came as his team began calling witnesses for their defense, which is expected to stretch into next week.

Moments after approaching the auto, Yanez fired seven shots, striking Castile five times.

Castile died, insisting that he hadn't been reaching for his handgun. Others were asked to weigh in on Yanez's decision not to radio his traffic stop into dispatch if he suspected an armed robber might be in the auto.

"The individual had a gun, (Yanez) didn't have time to (figure out) what his intention was", Dutton said. Kapelsohn disagreed, saying the central question to him was whether Yanez "reasonably believed that Castile was pulling out a firearm". He testified that he examined autopsy reports to conclude that Castile had smoked marijuana within about two hours of his death.

Yanez is charged with manslaughter in the death last July of Castile, a 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, in a St. Paul suburb. Only 12 will deliberate, with three serving as alternates.

"You didn't say (Castile) grabbed a gun", Dusterhoft said.

Yanez is expected to testify later Friday.

Under cross-examination, Diehl said Minnesotans with a license to carry a firearm are not required by law to disclose to a police officer that they have a gun.

The Minnesota police officer charged in the death of Philando Castile has taken the stand. Officer Jeronimo Yanez faces a charge of second-degree manslaughter for killing Castile last July.

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