MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For the first time Tuesday, the public was able to see what happened the night former St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile.
Evidence from the trial was made public Tuesday afternoon.
On Friday, a jury found Yanez not guilty on all charges in Castile’s death. The 29-year-old officer was fired from the St. Anthony Police Department immediately after the verdict came down.
Yanez shot Castile on July 6 during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. During the trial, he told jurors that he believed Castile was reaching for his gun when he shot him.
The immediate aftermath of the shooting was streamed live on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds. However, that video didn’t show the sequence of events that caused Yanez to resort to deadly force.
But the squad video released Tuesday does. It was shown in court to jurors multiple times.
The 10-minute video shows Yanez pulling over Castile for a faulty brake light. Thinking that he also resembled a suspect in a recent armed robbery, Yanez calmly walks up to the driver-side window.
“Can I see your license and insurance?” Yanez says.
It’s at this point Yanez testified that he smelled the strong odor of burnt marijuana. Castile hands over the insurance card and tells Yanez in a calm tone, “Sir, I have to tell you, I have a firearm on me.”
The stop then takes a sudden and deadly turn.
“OK, don’t reach for it,” Yanez says.
Castile insists that he’s not reaching for his gun, but just seconds later, Yanez reaches in with his left arm.
On the stand, Yanez explained he was trying to get Castile’s attention as he was staring straight ahead, right arm at his side.
Then came the frantic final orders.
“Don’t pull it out, don’t pull it out,” Yanez yelled.
The officer fires seven shots. Five of them hit the elementary school cafeteria worker.
Immediately after the shooting, Yanez appears shocked at what happened. In the video, Castile’s final words are audible: “I wasn’t reaching for it.”
Yanez swears, and implores Reynolds to keep her hands in view. It’s at that point that Reynolds’ Facebook Live broadcast begins.
When this video was shown to jurors for the first time, the courtroom sat in absolute silence.
But jurors later said it cast enough “reasonable doubt,” because it doesn’t disprove Yanez’s testimony: that he saw Castile’s hand on the pistol in his right front shorts pocket.
After the jury deliberated for about 29 hours, Yanez was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter and two lesser charges of endangering the lives of Reynolds and her daughter.
The evidence also included an interview transcript between Yanez and two BCA agents just hours after the shooting.
The day after the shooting, Yanez was interviewed by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for about an hour.
“I told him that the driver appeared to match the physical description of our suspect from the strong-armed robbery,” said Yanez during the interview.
For about an hour, you hear BCA Special Agent Doug Henning asking Yanez questions about the circumstances that led to the shooting.
As soon as I get up to the car I’m hit with a, an odor of burning marijuana.
And then he goes, I have a gun.
As he’s telling me that he’s reaching down to his right leg, right thigh area and the center console.
I believe I’m telling him something along the lines of, ‘Don’t reach for it. Don’t do it.’
Yanez then tells Henning that he believes Castile has no regard for what he’s saying.
Being the vehicle smelled like marijuana, I didn’t know if he was keeping it on him for protection from a drug dealer or anything like that.
I believe I told him don’t do it and he continued to move.
I had no other option to take out my firearm and I shot. I shot him.
Along with audio of the interview, the BCA released evidence from the scene, including pictures of Yanez’s gun and Castile’s gun, which fell out of his pocket.
There were also pictures of blood from inside the car, along with bullets in the seats and trajectory photos showing how Yanez shot into the vehicle.
There’s also a picture of Yanez with Castile’s bloody insurance card still in his pocket, and wearing a “Police Lives Matter” bracelet.
“It was dark and I could barely see and I thought it was a firearm and I thought he was going to shoot and kill me and shoot and kill my partner right after that,” Yanez said.
He told Henning during the interview that he had pulled over other drivers in the past who told him they were carrying a firearm. He told Henning they have typically told him where the gun is in the car, and they have kept their hands in view.
Audio of the BCA’s interview with Yanez’s partner, Officer Joseph Kauser, was also released.
Kauser told the agent that he could not hear all the words exchanged between Yanez and Castile, and he was surprised when shots rang out.
Looking ahead, there could be two civil trials — one brought by Castile’s family and the other by Reynolds.
The evidence presented at the criminal trial is now public and would likely be used in any civil proceedings.