Friday, 28 July, 2017

Minnesota officer charged with murdering black motorist to testify

Melody Ballard | 10 June, 2017, 17:44

The Minnesota officer facing manslaughter charges for fatally shooting a black man during a traffic stop previous year took the stand on Friday and gave emotional testimony saying "he had no choice" when he pulled his gun.

According to KSTP-TV, Yanez said on the stand today that before he initiated the traffic stop, he saw Castile drive by; the two "made eye contact and he gave me a deer-in-headlights look", Yanez testified.

A prosecutor has told jurors in OH that the white former police officer who killed a black unarmed motorist should have followed his training, while the defense says the man who was killed should have followed orders.

"I thought I was going to die", Yanez said, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune. At that point, the officer, fearing for his life, opened fire into Castile's vehicle, fatally wounding the St. Paul elementary school cafeteria supervisor, they contend.

Castile was roughly the same age, same race and had similar dreadlocks to the robbery suspect, Yanez testified.

Kapelsohn said it was possible Castile didn't have his hand in or near his pocket at that point.

"I was immediately hit with the odor of burnt marijuana", Yanez said, describing the scene when he walked up to the vehicle. Dusterhoft said that was significant because it would have meant Castile had the gun all the way out of his pocket when he was shot.

Kapelsohn says if Yanez believed he saw a gun, he was justified to shoot.

Yanez shot Castile five times barely a minute after he approached the auto and Castile informed the officer that he was carrying a handgun. Others were asked to weigh in on Yanez's decision not to radio his traffic stop into dispatch if he suspected an armed robber might be in the auto.

Yanez then told Castile not to reach for the gun. Yanez fired seven shots, hitting Castile five times, including twice in the heart, prosecutors said.

"We have to look at the totality of the circumstances", Mangseth said.

Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, live streamed the aftermath of the shooting on Facebook.

Closing arguments are set for Monday.

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He testified Thursday that Yanez followed protocol when he radioed his police partner in another squad auto to tell him about a driver who resembled a suspect in a recent armed robbery.

Prosecutors say Yanez's actions were unreasonable.

A Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a black motorist says he saw a gun before firing. Only 12 will deliberate, with three serving as alternates.

Defense attorneys will continue calling witnesses Friday morning.

The defense maintains that Castile was reaching for his gun despite Yanez's repeated commands not to.

Part of Yanez's defense was highlighting that THC - the active chemical in marijuana - had been found in Castile's system after his death; therefore, Castile was high during the traffic stop and culpable for his fate.

Given Castile had just told Yanez he had a firearm and was continuing to reach for something on his right-side despite the officer's commands to stop could meet that threshold, Kapelsohn said. Yanez has been charged with manslaughter.

"So are you saying (Castile) was trying to pull out the gun and shoot the officer", Paulsen finally asked. He rejected prosecutor Jeff Paulsen's assertion Friday that the central question in the case is whether Yanez saw Castile's gun. The video went viral, sparking protests and renewing criticism of the use of deadly force by police, especially against African-American men.

In addition to Yanez and Kauser, Reynolds, various law enforcement officials who responded to the shooting and experts on use of force and toxicology testified during the week of testimony.

While inside the vehicle Kapelsohn timed how quickly a 9 mm gun could be drawn from those shorts while sitting in the driver's seat, and he testified it took just 3/10 of a second on average. Kapelsohn says that was a moderate response.

Earlier this week, Reynolds testified that she felt she had to record the encounter with Yanez out of fear for her own life.

Yanez took the witness stand on the fifth day of testimony in his manslaughter trial. So he had to act fast not knowing if a weapon would be drawn on him.

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