Jury: Jeronimo Yanez, the Former Cop Who Fatally Shot Philando Castile, is Not Guilty of Manslaughter

By Kenrya Rankin Jun 16, 2017

The trial for Jeronimo Yanez—the former St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer who killed 32-year-old Philando Castile during a traffic stop—started on May 30. Two weeks later, the jury just returned a verdict of not guilty on all charges. 

The jury, made up of two Black and 10 White people, began deliberations Monday (June 12). ABC News reports that the members asked to re-watch the dashcam and Facebook Live videos of the July 6, 2016 shooting and its aftermath on Tuesday (June 13). Minnesota Public Radio News reports that on Wednesday (June 14), jurors told the court that they were deadlocked. Ramsey County Judge William Leary sent them back to deliberate.

Today (June 16), the jury found Yanez not guilty of second-degree manslaughter, two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000. And each of the firearm charges could have resulted in a sentence of two years and $5,000 in fines. 

As Colorlines previously reported:

Castile—who was Black—was shot during a traffic stop, after informing officers that he had a registered firearm in the car. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, posted a Facebook live video of the aftermath of the shooting, which kicked off protests citywide. Per StarTribune, Yanez—who is Latinx—is the first Minnesota-area officer to be charged in a police-involved death since 2000, despite more than 150 killings in those 16 years.

Yanez stopped Castile because he fit the description of a robbery suspect who had a “wide-set” nose. The former officer said he feared for his life during the stop, but as Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said during a press conference following the indictment in November: “[Castile’s] dying words were in protest that he wasn’t reaching for his gun. There simply was no objective threat posed to Officer Yanez.”

Per StarTribune, the defense argued that Castile was reaching for his gun when he was shot, and that he caused his own death. The prosecution pointed out Castile suffered a gunshot wound on his right hand, and there was no damage to the pocket Yanez said he was reaching toward.