A Minnesota jury found former St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty in the 2016 shooting of motorist Philando Castile. The aftermath of the shooting was live-streamed on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend, attracting national attention.
Jurors reached the verdict shortly after 2 pm local time Friday, after nearly 30 hours of deliberation, during which they made two requests to re-read the transcript of Yanez’s testimony. The judge denied both requests.
“I thought I was going to die,” Yanez testified on June 9 before a packed courtroom. “I had no other choice. I was forced to engage Mr. Castile. He was not complying with my directions.”
Asked if he wanted to shoot Castile, the police officer began to cry, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “I did not want to shoot Mr. Castile at all,” he said. “Those were not my intentions.”
Prosecutors argued that Yanez, who is Mexican-American, racially profiled the African-American Castile, when he pulled him over for a nonfunctioning brake light. Yanez testified that he also wanted to investigate whether Castile was a suspect in the armed robbery of a nearby convenience store four days earlier.
Castile had a licensed handgun on him, and Yanez shot him seven times. The aftermath of the shooting was live-streamed by Castile’s girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who was in the car at the time. The shooting prompted nationwide protests.
The defense argued that Castile was under the influence of marijuana and did not comply with the officer’s instructions. Castile, 32, worked as a school cafeteria supervisor in St. Paul.
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