ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Forensic and use of force experts took the stand Wednesday in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony police officer accused of killing a black man during a traffic stop.
Yanez faces manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Philando Castile during a stop in Falcon Heights last summer. He also faces weapons charges.
The case gained national attention when Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, livestreamed the moments following the shooting on Facebook.
The prosecution came out strong Wednesday, calling a number of experts to the stand, including a use of force expert.
Jeffrey Noble is a retired California police officer, who himself had to kill a bank robber who pointed his gun at other officers.
But when asked about Yanez’s use of deadly force, he says Yanez made a number of key mistakes.
First, his commands weren’t clear. Yanez didn’t tell Castile to put his hands where he could see the gun.
When learning of Castile’s gun, Yanez should have moved slightly behind the door pillar, Noble said.
Instead, shots were fired just 5 seconds later.
In Noble’s opinion, the shooting was “unreasonable,” “excessive,” and “inappropriate.”
Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Bake also testified that Castile was hit by at least 5 of the 7 shots that Yanez fired. He said two of them proved fatal, striking his Castile’s heart.
But the state was also out to show how the officer’s shots endangered Reynolds and her 4-year-old child, who was in the back seat during the shooting.
One bullet went through the driver seat and lodged roughly 16 to 17 inches from the girl’s child seat. Another bullet lodged in the armrest next to Reynolds.
Later, Dr. Kristen Engebretsen, a toxicologist hired by the prosecution, tried to downplay the levels of THC found in Castile’s blood.
When asked if there was any way to determine when Castile last smoked marijuana, she said, “There is not.”
Meanwhile, the defense contends Castile is culpable in his own death because he was under the influence of marijuana.
Defense could start its case as soon as Thursday.