Jurors in the manslaughter trial of a Minnesota police officer finished their second day of deliberations Tuesday with no verdict after reviewing footage of Philando Castile’s final moments.
The jury asked to see the videos again Tuesday as they weighed the fate of St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez. He faces up to 20 years in prison on charges from the July 6 shooting, which led to nationwide protests and renewed debate over excessive force after Castile’s girlfriend broadcast the incident on Facebook Live.
In four days of testimony, prosecutors attempted to portray Yanez as a nervous officer who lost control of a traffic stop and was too quick to pull the trigger based on an unreasonable suspicion that Castile was a robbery suspect.
Yanez testified in his defense that he shot Castile because he thought he was “going to die.” Yanez said he saw Castile’s hand on a gun after he told him not to reach for it.
His lawyer, Earl Gray, told the jury that Castile would still be alive if he wasn’t “stoned” and had followed Yanez’s instructions.
What the videos show
The panel of eight men and four women, which includes one black man and one black woman, watched intently as both videos were played in open court on Tuesday.
Diamond Reynolds’ video did not show what happened before the shooting. It showed her crying and screaming as a red stain spread across Castile’s white shirt and he uttered his last words: “I wasn’t reaching for it.”
Prosecutors showed dashcam footage from Yanez’s vehicle to fill in the gaps and support their claim that Yanez failed to give clear instructions, escalating what one officer described as a “relaxed and calm” situation to bloodshed within a minute of approaching the vehicle.
Castile is clearly heard on the dashcam audio telling Yanez he has a firearm after the officer asks for his license and insurance. The footage shows Yanez drawing his gun as he yells at Castile “Don’t reach for it.” Seconds later, Yanez fired seven shots, five of them striking Castile.
In an attempt to prove Yanez was negligent, prosecutors asked police witnesses how they would handle a situation if a person told them they had a gun. Officer Joseph Kauser, second on the scene, said he would ask where the gun was and tell the person to keep their hands on the steering wheel or dashboard.
Yanez gave no such instructions. His lawyers said he did not have the time to do so because the situation escalated so quickly. The defense called a police training and firearms expert, who said Yanez acted appropriately given his impression Castile was reaching for a gun.
What the videos don’t show
Neither video replayed in court Tuesday showed Castile’s gun, another crucial issue in the trial. Police witnesses gave conflicting accounts about the firearm.
One officer said he saw the gun slide out of Castile’s pocket as he was placed on a medical backboard; another said he saw an officer reach into his pocket and pull it out.
Yanez faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter. He also faces five years each on two charges of dangerous discharge of a firearm for endangering the lives of Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter in the backseat.