Officer's trial judge to rule on Castile gun permit evidence


The immediate aftermath of the July 2016 shooting was live-streamed on Facebook by Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was a passenger in the vehicle along with her 4-year-old daughter.

The trial of a St. Anthony Police officer begins Tuesday with jury selection in the Jeronimo Yanez case.

Castile, who was black, was killed July 6 during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. He also faces two felony-counts of risky discharge of a firearm for allegedly endangering the lives of Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her young child.

The graphic video showing Philando Castile's final moments after he was shot by a Minnesota police officer made headlines almost a year ago and led to calls for changes in policing.

Castile's good friend and former co-worker, John Thompson, said later that he wished the jury had been "a little more diverse". The police department is undergoing a voluntary review by the U.S. Justice Department.

While taking a break from mowing his lawn, 54-year-old Ron Brisbois says he hasn't reached any conclusions about the case, but he is glad the process will play out in a public courtroom. Castile responded, "I'm not pulling it out", and Reynolds said, "He's not pulling it out". "I think that's the way the system is meant to work". Authorities later found that Castile had a gun permit.

Prosecutors say he told Yanez about the gun before trying to pull out his driver's license when the officer asked for it.

One person was dismissed when it was revealed that he or she is actually a relative of Yanez. According to the criminal complaint, Castile's last words were: "I wasn't reaching for it".

Police form a line in response to protesters who blocked a highway while rallying in response to the killing of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by a suburban St. Paul police officer on July 6. Yanez told state investigators that he feared for his life, but Choi argues Castile never threatened the officer.

His attorneys have argued Yanez reacted to the presence of a gun and had to use deadly force to protect himself.

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Defense Attorney Marsh Halberg believes Yanez is starting off with a slight advantage, public opinion of the hard job those in law enforcement do every day.

"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", said Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Ohio's Bowling Green State University. Of the 50 that were ushered into the courtroom, 5 of 50 appear to be African American and several more could be considered non-Caucasian.

Defense attorney Earl Gray argued that all mentions of Castile's permit to carry made by Reynolds in video footage of the incident be removed. Here is Matt Sepic from Minnesota Public Radio.

DIAMOND REYNOLDS: We got pulled over on Larpenteur.

JERONIMO YANEZ: The driver looks more like one of our suspects just because of the wide-set nose.

The aftermath of the shooting was streamed live on Facebook by Castile's fiancée, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the vehicle with him, as was her 4-year-old daughter.

Reynolds: "I will sir". I'll keep my hands where they are. Please, Jesus, don't tell me that he's gone. He said Castile's hand took a C-shape, "like putting my hand up to the butt of the gun".

JOHN CHOI: The mere mention or presence of a firearm alone can not justify the use of deadly force. Majority were white. And I think that's the way the system is meant to work.

The process of selecting a jury is underway in Minnesota in the trial of a police officer charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting a black motorist. Across the country in the last dozen years, there have been thousands of police shootings, but academic research shows only 80 officers were charged and just a third were convicted. She calmly explained what had taken place, saying they had been pulled over for a broken tail light.