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Attorney: Officer 'did what he had to do' in driver shooting

14 June 2017

The Minnesota police officer charged with fatally shooting a black motorist during a traffic stop past year, the aftermath of which was streamed on social media by the driver's girlfriend, was not justified in firing his gun, prosecutors said on Monday.

Now, a jury must decide whether Yanez should be convicted of three charges against him: one count of second-degree manslaughter for the death of Castile, and two counts of "intentional discharge of firearm that endangers safety" for shooting into a vehicle with Reynolds and her daughter inside. (Yanez) fired seven rounds into that vehicle.

The shooting drew widespread attention because Castile's girlfriend livestreamed the aftermath on Facebook.

Yanez is facing charges for second-degree murder and unsafe discharge of a firearm. After Yanez activated his flashing lights, Castile stopped near a squat apartment building and row of trees.

The BCA transcript of Yanez's interview with the BCA the day after the shooting was never admitted into court and therefore could not be reviewed. Closing arguments are set for Monday, Ju. Before Castile finishes that sentence, Yanez has his hand on his own gun and is pulling it out of the holster.

Squad-car video played repeatedly for the jury last week shows that the situation escalated quickly, with Yanez shooting Castile just seconds after the driver volunteered, "Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me".

The defense attorney also refuted the inconsistencies in Yanez's statements using the word "it" instead of "gun".

Noting that there was no damage to Castile's pocket or gun, Paulsen said that Castile's finger could not have been on the gun when he was shot.

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Prosecutors countered that Yanez never saw the gun and had plenty of options short of shooting the 32-year-old school cafeteria worker, who they say was never a threat and had a gun permit.

"Among them was KingDemetrius Pendleton, a 47-year-old Minneapolis man who was wearing a T-shirt with Castile's photo that says "Justice 4 Philando", and "Hands Up Don't Shoot", with the hashtag "#BlackLivesMatter". He also alluded to testimony from defense witnesses who portrayed Yanez as a good and honest man.

The jury has to find three elements to convict Yanez of second-degree manslaughter: that the death occurred, Yanez caused the death of Castile by culpable negligence, and Yanez's actions took place on July 6, 2016 in Ramsey County. He said Castile disregarded the officer's orders and reached for his gun because he was stoned on marijuana.

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"I told him, 'Don't pull it out, ' " Yanez testified in court, adding that he tried to distract Philando, but "he continued to pull his firearm out of his pocket". But a prosecution expert testified there's no way to tell when Castile last smoked marijuana or whether he was high. "No", Yanez said, "I was sure".

Jurors resume deliberations Tuesday in the manslaughter trial of a Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a black motorist seconds after the man informed him he was carrying a gun.

Pendleton named several other black men who have been killed by police in recent years.