MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Officer Jeronimo Yanez took the stand today in his own defense.
Yanez is the St. Anthony Police Officer charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Philando Castile. Yanez shot Castile during a traffic stop last summer.
Earlier this week jurors heard from Castile’s girlfriend, who was in the car with him and livestreamed the aftermath of the
shooting on Facebook. On Friday, it was Yanez’s turn to take the stand.
The two-week trial is wrapping up the way most anticipated, with defendant himself on stand. Consequently, the courtroom was at capacity, with all family and close friends. There were no seats available for the general public.
For the first time, we learned from Yanez what he saw and why he resorted to deadly force.
He described to jurors learning of Castile’s firearm, saying, “As he told me, I said ‘OK, don’t reach for it, then.’ He immediately begin reaching down. I told him, ‘Don’t reach for it,’ and that’s when he began pulling it out.'”
Yanez then explained, “He had it out enough so I could see the top of the slide,” referring to a gun in the front-right pocket of Castile’s shorts.
“That’s when I engaged Mr. Castile, and shot him,” Yanez said in his testimony.
Yanez went on to say, “He had total disregard for my commands.” His voice breaking, and wiping away tears, Yanez added, “I had no other choice. I didn’t want to shoot Mr. Castile. That wasn’t my intention.”
When asked if he was scared, Yanez said he was thinking of his wife and small child, adding, “I thought I was going to die.”