ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — After hearing from Castile’s family today, both Ramsey County prosecutors and Yanez’s defense council spoke.
Defense attorney Earl Gray says he’s surprised the jury didn’t acquit Yanez sooner.
“When you’re this close to somebody — three feet away, two feet away — and a guy is pulling a gun, and he’s not paying attention to your orders, as a law enforcement officer you have one duty — and that’s to save yourself,” Gray said.
“I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way the Castile family would’ve liked,” Ramsey County John Choi said. “But the process — we can’t control it, other than the fact we do the best that we can, the defense does the best they can, and it’s a product of that system.”
Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, broadcast the immediate aftermath of the shooting live on Facebook. Reynolds testified in court that Castile was reaching for his wallet during the traffic stop in Falcon Heights.
Officer Yanez told jurors he saw a gun in Castile’s pocket.
You could see the strain and fatigue clearly in their faces. The 12 men and women who’d been living ordinary lives, until they’d sit in judgement of an extraordinary trial.
“It was very, very draining,” juror Dennis Ploussard said.
Ploussard says he felt compelled to talk of the pains each juror felt, carefully weighing evidence and testimony over five days. It would take them five more to finally exonerate officer Yanez.
“This was not taken lightly whatsoever,” Ploussard said. “At the end, I was fed up, and I told the other jurors, ‘I’m fed up, let’s just call it. Let’s just call it a hung jury.'”
Nearly all week the jury was deadlocked. Two jurors struggled with discrepancies in the officers initial statements and later testimony.
“I know that in both their minds they thought that Yanez did not see a gun,” Ploussard said.
Ploussard says jurors sat with heads down and total silence, after they were finally discharged, knowing it would please some and anger others.
“And that was one of the first things I asked Monday afternoon, ‘Does anyone believe this was racially connected?'” Ploussard said. “And we all agreed, it wasn’t.”
Finally, Ploussard believes Castile only meant to show the officer his gun and the permit to carry.
“He had no intention to shoot the officer – not at all,” Ploussard said.
It was a terrible and fatal action that no verdict could ever change.
Ploussard says once they fully understood the legal meaning of “culpable negligence,” all jurors came to the conclusion that any other reasonable officer would have responded the same way.