ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A Minnesota police officer has been acquitted of manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a black motorist.
Jeronimo Yanez was also cleared Friday of two lesser charges in the July traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb. Yanez shot Philando Castile five times just seconds after Castile informed him he was carrying a gun.
Yanez testified that Castile was pulling his gun out of his pocket despite his commands not to do so. The defense also argued Castile was high on marijuana and said that affected his actions.
Castile had a permit for the weapon.
Prosecutors questioned whether Yanez ever saw the gun. They argued that the officer overreacted and that Castile was not a threat.
The case garnered immediate attention because Castile’s girlfriend streamed the aftermath live on Facebook.
Castile’s mother, Valerie, stood and swore when the jury’s verdict was read in St. Paul. His sister and others sobbed loudly.
Family members immediately tried to leave the courtroom, and did so after security officers briefly barred their way.
Valerie Castile spoke angrily after a jury acquitted Officer Jeronimo Yanez of manslaughter in the death of her son Philando.
He was shot five times seconds after he informed Yanez during a traffic stop that he was carrying a gun.
Yanez testified that Castile ignored his commands not to pull out the gun and he feared for his life.
Valerie Castile called her son’s death murder. She pointed out her son was wearing a seatbelt and had his girlfriend and her daughter in the car. She says she’s “very disappointed in the system here in the state of Minnesota.”
The jury deliberated five days before reaching its verdict.
Tom Kelly was among attorneys representing Officer Jeronimo Yanez.
Kelly says the team was confident in their case and in Yanez, and felt his conduct was justified. He says that “doesn’t take away from the tragedy of the event.”
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