MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Twin Cities police officer charged with killing a driver during a controversial shooting goes on trial Tuesday.
Prosecutors charged St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez with manslaughter.
Yanez pulled over Philando Castile in Falcon Heights last summer, thinking he matched the description of a robbery suspect.
The Ramsey County attorney called what happened next unjustifiable.
The officer’s attorney called it self-defense.
When Philando Castile was pulled over, the evening of July 6, 2016, the world was watching.
A public already decrying police shootings of civilians would have yet another.
This shocking video shot by passenger Diamond Reynolds was instantly posted to Facebook.
Quickly, the shooting of Castile, by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, sparked angry protests at the Governor’s residence and obstructive marches on Interstate 94.
“You’re not going to want people who have had bad experiences with officers,” defense attorney Joe Tamburino said.
Tamburino is not associated with the case. But he says jury selection will hinge on potential juror bias and general opinions of police.
“And the third thing is you want to make sure that your juror can place themselves in the shoes of officer Yanez,” he said.
Defense is out to show that any reasonable officer would have responded the same. Castile was armed that night, but had a legal permit to carry.
“Did the officer as he was viewing Mr. Castile feel that Mr. Castile was about to go for his weapon?” Tamburino said.
Prosecutors will argue otherwise, saying that he was complying and about to hand Yanez a license.
Jurors won’t be visiting the scene of the shooting, now a makeshift memorial. And the defense team was dealt a setback as the judge ruled against any kind of re-enactment using the actual car.
Also not part of the case, defense attorney Marsh Halberg believes Yanez starts with a slight advantage — public opinion.
“I think in this case actually, the defense is walking in, I think in a way more favorable than the state, because there’s generally in Minnesota still a great respect for law enforcement,” Halberg said.
Prosecutors will try to show that Yanez acted unreasonably, with negligence.
Key to both sides is that 90 second gap from when the car was stopped and that video rolled.
“It’s really going to come down a lot to credibility of exactly what was said, how it was said. Why was the car really stopped, what was really said when they came up to the side, that’s going to be questions of fact,” Halberg said.
Jury selection will begin Tuesday morning.