Use-of-force expert: Minnesota officer justified in shooting

Jeronimo Yanez

Jeronimo Yanez

Prosecutors say he acted unreasonably in shooting Philando Castile during a July 6 traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb. Castile disclosed he was carrying a licensed handgun. Witnesses have testified that the gun was in a pocket of Castile's shorts when paramedics removed him from his vehicle.

Yanez's fate rests in the hands of a jury who will deliberate at the close of the trial.

Defense attorneys unsuccessfully tried to block one of two black jurors from the final group of 15 (12 jurors and 3 alternates), arguing a female immigrant from Ethiopia didn't understand the criminal justice system well enough to follow the proceedings.

Prosecutors are trying to raise doubts about a Minnesota officer's testimony at his trial in the manslaughter death of a black motorist.

Despite the disclosure, Yanez reacted by shooting him. "He didn't tell me where the (expletive) gun was", Yanez said, according to the Associated Press. He said that was significant because it would have meant Castile had the gun all the way out of his pocket when he was shot.

Other testimony Thursday focused on where other officers who responded to the shooting spotted Castile's gun after his body was removed from the auto.

During this interview, Dusterhoft says Yanez made several statements that are now inconsistent with his current testimony, including that he only saw Castile's gun barrel when Castile was reaching for an "object".

The instructor at the gun range in Ramsey where Castile took his permit-to-carry safety class also testified Thursday.

Yanez has said he was justified in stopping Castile's auto because he resembled a suspect in a convenience store robbery, according to court documents.

"I was able to see the firearm in Mr. Castile's hand, and that's when I engaged him", Yanez told the jury.

Instead of retreating to a safer position for himself, he added that Yanez remained at Castile's window so he could point down and to the left to avoid injury to the other passengers in the auto.

The defense's attempt to argue that only Yanez's training was relevant, not that of other officers, began to falter when Mangseth testified about St. Anthony's training and policies. "It's what officers across the country are trained to do in situations like this", Kapelsohn said.

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Yanez is charged with manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm for killing Castile. 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".

Other key points made by Kapelsohn Friday morning related to the level of danger Yanez placed Castile's girlfriend and young child in when he opened fire into Castile's vehicle.

Police officer Jeronimo Yanez. 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". He added it would be reasonable to assume Castile's plan was to fire the weapon. Dash cam footage caught audio of Castile telling the officer he wasn't pulling out the gun.

"The individual had a gun, (Yanez) didn't have time to (figure out) what his intention was", Dutton said.

Prosecutors have sought to show Yanez could have taken lesser steps, such as asking to see Castile's hands or asking where the gun was.

Kauser also said he never saw Castile's gun. "He'd be remiss in not doing so", Kapelsohn said.

Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, live streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.

A Castile family spokeswoman after court Friday said they would have no comment until after the verdict. The 32-year-old cafeteria worker had a permit for the weapon. He rejected prosecutor Jeff Paulsen's assertion Friday that the central question in the case is whether Yanez saw Castile's gun.

Their analysis different greatly from an expert who testified on behalf of the state who found Yanez's use of force "unreasonable" and "excessive" based on a variety of factors.

Emanuel Kapelsohn was the second such expert in two days called by attorneys for Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

Philando Castile funeral was held on July 14, 2016 in St. Paul Minnesota.

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