Opening statements expected in trial of Minnesota officer

Owen Stevens
June 6, 2017

The jury that will decide the fate of St. Anthony, Minnesota, police Officer Jeronimo Yanez is mostly white, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported as opening statements were heard in the officer's second-degree manslaughter trial on Monday. Reynolds livestreamed the aftermath of the shooting to Facebook, helping the case attract national attention and sparking days of protests in 2016.

The jury is seated, the defense and prosecution make their opening statements, and the first of the witnesses - including Diamond Reynolds, Philando Castile's girlfriend and the woman who introduced millions to this traffic stop - take the stand. He also faces two counts of unsafe discharge of a firearm because Reynolds and her daughter were also in the auto at the time of the shooting.

If he listened, Engh said, Castile would still be alive today. He also faces two counts of risky discharge of a weapon for endangering the lives of Reynolds and her young daughter when he fired in Castile vehicle.

The jury is made up of 15 people, three of whom are alternates, though it's not clear who the alternates are.

Prosecutors have said Yanez's actions weren't reasonable, while the defense has said Yanez feared for his life.

Castile's last words were, "I wasn't reaching for it", insisting that he wasn't reaching for his registered handgun, according to a transcript presented in the criminal complaint against Yanez. She hasn't yet talked about the shooting. Yanez screamed "Don't pull it out" and quickly pulled his own gun with his right hand while he reached inside the driver's side window with his left hand. Judge William Leary III kept the woman on the jury.

Prosecutor Rick Dusterhoft told jurors squad vehicle video will be played in which Yanez can be heard telling a fellow officer he didn't know where the gun was.

A young black man who manages a Wendy's restaurant is also on the panel. Yanez's attorneys say the officer was reacting to the presence of a gun.

Defense attorneys said if statements about Castile's permit were allowed, they would argue it was obtained illegally in 2016 because he was allegedly a marijuana user at the time.

St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez stands outside the Ramsey County Courthouse while waiting for a ride Tuesday, May 30, 2017, in St. Paul, Minn.

Her testimony was halted for the day Monday afternoon just as she was describing the hours leading up to the shooting, including the couple's meeting at her daughter's daycare to pick her up for the day and a trip to Cub Foods.

Defense attorneys said last week that Yanez plans to testify.

Other reports by VgToday

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