Jeronimo Yanez not guilty of manslaughter for killing Philando Castile

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The aftermath of Jeronimo Yanez's shooting of Philando Castile was live-streamed, and watched by millions.

St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez was acquitted Friday of second-degree manslaughter for killing Philando Castile during a traffic stop in summer 2016. 

Yanez had also been charged with two counts of "intentional discharge of a dangerous weapon" for firing into a vehicle that contianed Castile, his girlfriend, and her 4-year-old daughter. He was acquitted of those charges as well.

Yanez was the first police officer in recent Minnesota history to face charges for shooting a suspect while on-duty. 

After a dramatic trial, Yanez's jurors deliberated for five days, and on Thursday afternoon told the judge they'd been unable to reach a consensus. The judge reiterated the instructions, and sent the jury back in for further discussion.

The manslaughter charge carried a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine, while each of his two "dangerous weapon" charges could've meant up to five years or a fine of $10,000. Yanez has been on paid administrative leave since the incident. 

Castile, 32, was pulled over in the small St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, which had outsourced its policing duties to St. Anthony's department. At the time, Yanez and a partner were looking for a suspect in a recent armed robbery in that area. In Castile, a lunch attendant at a public school, they'd pulled over the wrong man.

Castile had quickly informed Yanez that he was a gun owner, and had a pistol on him when he was pulled over. On the stand, Yanez told the courtroom he thought he "was going to die," and claimed he thought Castile was reaching for the gun when he shot into the car.

Prosecutors countered that Yanez didn't see Castile's gun, which was later found in the pocket of the shorts Castile was wearing. Castile's last words, spoken to Yanez after he'd been shot, were, "I wasn't reaching for it."

Yanez fired seven shots, five of which hit Castile, whose death was recorded and live-streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds.

Jurors watched that video in court, as well as a dashcam video which captured their brief interaction. On Tuesday, jurors asked to re-watch both videos to help them reach a consensus. Two of Yanez's jurors were black, and the other 10 were white. 

Activists and supporters of Castile had planned a rally at 7 p.m. at the Capitol building in St. Paul on the night a verdict was reached. In a Facebook post, the "Justice Occupation for Philando" group wrote, "We need to be ready to have a unified response regardless of the verdict. We need people to show up and stand in solidarity and unity."

UPDATE: Shortly after the jury announced its verdict, the City of St. Anthony announced Yanez would no longer be employed as a police officer there. The city said Yanez had agreed to "a voluntary separation agreement to help him transition to another career other than being a St. Anthony officer."


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