ST. PAUL, Minn. “It’s not that hard of a case. Think about it. Think about an officer in that position,” defense attorney for Officer Jeronimo Yanez, Earl Gray, said in his closing statement to the jury according to Kare 11.
Throughout last week, attorneys argued the trial for the shooting of Philando Castile by Yanez. The shooting occurred last summer in a St. Paul suburb, Falcon Heights, when Castile was pulled over by Yanez for a broken tail light. When asking for Castile to produce ID, Yanez shot Castile when he thought Castile was reaching for a gun. The prosecution alleges that Castile was reaching for his wallet.
During the shooting the audio which would have recorded the exchange between Castile and Yanez was not working. Immediately following the shooting, the other adult passenger, Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, Facebook Lived about what had occurred leading up to the shooting. This video was viewed over 2.5 million times and lead to large scale protests not just in Minnesota, but across the United States.
Yanez was brought up on charges of second degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a weapon.
For closing arguments the Assistant Ramsey County Prosecutor Jeff Paulsen told the jury according to Kare 11, “Officer Yanez used deadly force as a first option rather than a last resort.”
Much of the trial has hinged on whether or not Yanez in fact saw the gun when he decided to discharge his weapon. In the interview with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Yanez said “I know he had an object and it was dark.” Prosecution claims that Yanez had no way of knowing what the object in Castile’s hand was, and that Yanez made an impulsive decision in deciding to shoot Castile. It was later confirmed that the gun was in fact in the pocket which Castile was reaching toward.
For closing arguments the Assistant Ramsey County Prosecutor Jeff Paulsen told the jury according to Kare 11, “You have to be sure before you shoot. [Yanez] wasn’t even close to being sure.” Paulsen also reminded the jury in his closing argument that culpable negligence, the level of negligence on the part of Yanez that the jury is debating, is a high level of negligence. This means that it has to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Yanez had no reason to discharge his weapon.
In cross examination of Reynolds, Gray indicated that there were multiple inconsistencies within Reynolds original testimony regarding the events leading up to the shooting. Reynolds testified initially that Castile was reaching for his wallet, but later corrected it and stated that he was in fact reaching for his seat belt, which he needed to get out of the way in order to reach his wallet. While Reynolds originally testified that the wallet was in his side pocket (where the gun was found), she later changed the location of his wallet to his back pocket, where the wallet actually was located. It was also confirmed via cross examination that Castile had bought the marijuana that was found in the car following the shooting, which Reynolds originally stated she had bought.
Gray reiterated this point in his closing argument, saying that the prosecution had failed to meet this threshold. Gray also pointed out that it could be reasonably inferred that Castile was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the shooting.
Gray characterized the State of Minnesota’s investigation which found no reason for Yanez to fire on Castile, as completely unfair.
The jury will now enter into the important stage of deliberating the case and determining whether or not Yanez is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and two counts of dangerous discharge of a weapon.