Officer: Castile had hand on gun when shot

Jeronimo Yanez

Jeronimo Yanez

Closing arguments are set for Monday for Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

The St. Anthony police officer faces one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of risky discharge of a weapon in connection with fatally shooting Castile, a black motorist, during a traffic stop July 6 in Falcon Heights.

"I told him not to reach for it", a visibly agitated Yanez is heard saying on Reynolds's video, where he continues to point his gun at the driver as he lie in his seat bleeding. "I had no other choice ..."

"I'm not reaching for it", Castile responded. "He was not complying with my directions".

When Yanez was obtaining proof of insurance from Castile, he said he could see inside the vehicle and kept an eye on Castile's hands.

The shooting in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights during a traffic stop, like similar incidents across the United States, fueled public debate about appropriate use of force by law enforcement against minorities.

Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of risky discharge of a firearm. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of second-degree manslaughter.

Yanez has not spoken publicly about the shooting before Friday, though his comments to investigators have been reported in the media. Yanez watched a video of two black men with guns and was told to be on alert for the suspects.

Kapelsohn, a firearms instructor to police for 37 years, said the situation escalated when Castile reached for something.

Kapelsohn disagreed, saying the central question to him was whether Yanez "reasonably believed that Castile was pulling out a firearm". After Castile told the officer he had the gun, Yanez told Castile, "OK, don't reach for it then", and, "Don't pull it out" - a response Kapelsohn described as "moderate".

Yanez's attorneys argue that his actions were reasonable in the presence of a gun. "My wife. My baby girl".

Glenn Hardin, a former supervisor of Minnesota's state toxicology lab, testified Thursday as a witness for Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

Squad auto video recorded him telling a supervisor after the shooting that he did not know where the gun was, although it also recorded him saying he told Castile to take his hand off it. Witnesses testified that the gun was in a pocket of Castile's shorts when paramedics removed him from his vehicle.

"I don't know where the gun was".

Yanez now says he did in fact see a firearm and its slide.

After Castile was stopped, Yanez asked him to present his driver's license and insurance card.

When asked to explain the recording, Yanez told the jury, "What I meant by that was I didn't know where the gun was up until I saw it in his right thigh area", according to the Associated Press. Castile was shot moments after he told Yanez he was carrying a handgun, and prosecutors say Yanez acted unreasonably. Prosecutors have portrayed Castile as being cooperative when he volunteered to Yanez early during the stop, "Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me".

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

Yanez testified Friday that he saw Castile's hand on the gun.

Dusterhoft was able to confirm with Olson that Reynolds had learned only an hour prior that Castile had died when she told him she was hungry.

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.

Had Yanez not shot, Kapelsohn said, a gunfight could have erupted between Castile, Yanez and possibly Yanez's police partner who was on the other side of Castile's vehicle that night. "He'd be remiss if he didn't do so".

An autopsy found traces of THC, the marijuana component that gives a high, in Castile's system.

Castile's July 2016 killing received worldwide attention because his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the auto with her 4-year-old daughter when Yanez shot Castile five times, live-streamed the immediate aftermath on Facebook. The video quickly went viral and sparked protests across the nation.

Kapelsohn provided counsel with a 22-page condensed report that was a compilation of thousands of pages of case evidence, such as video and audio by police and Reynolds, investigative reports, medical reports, crime scene photos and St. Anthony Police Department training policies.

"(Yanez) endangered himself to try and make it less unsafe for the two other people involved", Kapelsohn said.

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