MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Charges have been filed against the officer who shot and killed Philando Castile last summer, and now we’re learning more about what happened in the moments leading up to the shooting.
On Wednesday, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi announced that St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez is charged with second-degree manslaughter, as well two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a weapon.
Yanez shot Castile during a traffic stop on July 6. The aftermath of the fatal shooting was broadcast on Facebook Live by the passenger in Castile’s vehicle, his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds. Her 4-year-old daughter was also in the back seat of the vehicle.
Dashboard video from the squad car showing the incident, with audio, will not be immediately released, Choi said.
However, the county attorney’s office released Yanez’s criminal complaint Wednesday, which details the moments immediately preceding the shooting based on squad car audio and video recordings of the stop.
Here are the details from the criminal complaint:
Just after 9 p.m. on July 6, Yanez was on patrol when he noticed a vehicle driven by Castile on Larpenteur Avenue in Lauderdale. It was near the scene of an unsolved convenience store robbery several days prior.
Yanez then communicated that he was going to pull over Castile’s vehicle to a nearby officer on patrol, Officer Joseph Kauser. He said he was pulling over the vehicle because the occupants “look just like the people that were involved in a robbery” and said the “driver looks more like one of our suspects because of the wide set nose.” He further stated that he had a reason to stop the vehicle because it had a non-working brake light. He then followed Castile’s vehicle while waiting for Kauser to arrive as back-up.
At 9:02 p.m., Yanez looked up Castile’s license plate number and found that the vehicle was registered to Castile, wasn’t stolen and there were no warrants for his arrest.
At 9:04 p.m., Yanez activated his squad lights, signaling for Castile to pull over. Castile then complied immediately and pulled over on the eastbound side of Larpenteur Avenue near Fry Street in Falcon Heights.
One minute later, Yanez shot Castile seven times, killing him.
Here’s a timeline of what happened in the moments before, during and after the shooting, according to the complaint:
9:05:00 p.m.: Castile’s vehicle came to a complete stop next to the curb.
9:05:15 – 9:05:22 p.m.: Yanez approached the driver’s side of Castile’s vehicle. As he walked toward the vehicle, Yanez had his right hand on the right side of his duty belt near his gun. Castile was buckled in his seatbelt.
9:05:22 p.m. – 9:05:38 p.m.: Yanez leaned down with his head near to and in front of the driver’s side window, exchanged greeting with Castile, and informed Castile of the brake light problem.
9:05:33 p.m.: Kauser approached on the sidewalk on the passenger side of Castile’s vehicle and stopped near the rear seat passenger door.
9:05:38 p.m.: Yanez asked for Castile’s driver’s license and proof of insurance.
9:05:48: Castile provided Yanez with his proof of insurance card.
9:05:49 p.m. – 9:05:52 p.m.: Yanez appeared to look at Castile’s insurance information and then tucked the card in his outer pocket.
9:05:52 p.m. – 9:05:55 p.m.: Castile calmly informed Yanez: “Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me.” Before Castile completed the sentence, Yanez interrupted and calmly replied “OK” and placed his right hand on the holster of his own holstered gun.
9:05:55 p.m. – 9:06:02 p.m.: Yanez said “OK, don’t reach for it then.”: Castile responded: “I’m … I’m… [inaudible] reaching…” before again being interrupted by Yanez, who said “Don’t pull it out.” Castile responded “I’m not pulling it out” and Reynolds also said “He’s not pulling it out.” Yanez screamed “Don’t pull it out” and quickly pulled his own gun with his right hand while he reached inside the driver’s side window with his left hand. Yanez removed his left arm from the car, then fired seven shots in the direction of Castile in rapid succession. The seventh shot was fired at 9:06:02 p.m. During the incident, Kauser did not touch or remove his gun.
9:06:03 p.m. – 9:06:04 p.m.: Reynolds yelled “You just killed my boyfriend!”
9:06:04 p.m. – 9:06:05 p.m.: Castile moaned and said “I wasn’t reaching for it.”
9:06:05 p.m. – 9:06:09 p.m.: Reynolds loudly said “He wasn’t reaching for it.” Before she completed her sentenced, Yanez again screamed “Don’t pull it out!” Reynolds responded “He wasn’t”. Yanez yelled “Don’t move! F—k!”
9:06:42 p.m. Reynolds starts to live stream the event on Facebook, beginning it by saying Castile “was trying to get out his ID in his wallet out his um pocket and he let the officer know that he was, reach he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm.
Here’s the exchange between Yanez and Reynolds:
Reynolds: “Stay with me. We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back. And the police just.. he’s, he’s, he’s covered. He, they just killed my boyfriend.
Reynolds: “He’s licensed. He’s carried, he is licensed to carry.”
Yanez: “Ma’am just keep your hands where they are.”
Reynolds: “I will sir. No worries. I will.”
Reynolds: “He just shot his arm off. We got pulled over..”
Reynolds: “… on Larpenteur.”
Yanez: “I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his hands off of it.”
Reynolds: “He had, you told him to get his ID sir and his driver’s license. Oh my God, please don’t tell me he’s dead.”
After removing Castile’s body from the vehicle, officers recovered a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun from inside the large right front pocket of his shorts. A wallet and holster was also later recovered. In his wallet, his driver’s license and permit to carry a pistol were found.
Minutes after the shooting, Yanez spoke with Saint Anthony Police Officer Tressa Sunde at the scene of the shooting. His words were captured on his squad microphone:
“He was sitting in the car, seat belted. I told him, can I see your license. And then, he told me he had a firearm. I told him not to reach for it and when he went down to grab, I told him not to reach for it and then he kept it right there, and I told him to take his hands off of it, and then he had his, his grip a lot wider than a wallet. And I don’t know where the gun was, he didn’t tell me where the f—king gun was and then it was just getting hinky, he gave, he was just staring straight ahead, and then I was getting f—king nervous , and then I told him, I know I f—king told him to get his f—king hand off his gun.”
The following day, Yanez was interviewed by BCA investigators. During the interview, Yanez said he smelled burned marijuana as he approached the driver’s side window, but didn’t say anything because he didn’t want Castile reacting in a defensive manner.
Yanez said that Castile told him he had a firearm at the same time he reached down between his right thigh area and the center console. Yanez said Castile kept his left hand on the steering wheel and canted his upper body, blocking Yanez’s view of his right hand. He said, in part, the following:
“I thought he had the gun in his hand, in his right hand. And I thought he had it enough to where all he had to do is just pull it out, point it at me, move his trigger finger down the trigger and let off rounds. And I had no other option than, to take out my firearm and, and I shot. Um I shot him. I don’t remember the first couple shots. I, believe I remember the last two shots. And I believe one of the shots went into his left arm. Um, as I was shooting uh I, I kept watching him. And I, I remember smelling the gun smoke and the bright flashes from the muzzle. And then I heard, a couple pops uh, from my firearm. Um and then my partner was on the opposite side of the vehicle. Uh watch, looking in and I directed my gunfire down as best I could. Away from, not trying to put the little girl’s life at jeopardy or the passenger or my partner because they were in the line of my fire.”
The other officer, Kauser, was also interviewed the following day and said the following:
“Um I couldn’t hear the conversation going on inside the vehicle. I could hear what my partner was saying. And, I, I don’t remember the entire conversation. I know my partner said don’t reach for it. And the passenger kinda leaned on his right butt check and he put his hand on his right hip. I don’t know if he was reaching for a firearm or wallet. I, I couldn’t see. I just saw that he had his right hand on his hip. Like I said my partner said don’t reach for it. And then there were shots fired.”
Kauser added that he didn’t see Yanez’s gun until he began shooting, and that Yanez gave no warning to Kauser that Castile had a gun. When asked if he was surprised by the shooting, Kauser said “absolutely.”
Yanez will make first court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
In Minnesota, second-degree manslaughter, or involuntary manslaughter, carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.