Jurors saw dash cam video footage of the fatal shooting of Philando Castile as testimony opened in the manslaughter trial of St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez Monday.
Lawyers for Yanez say the officer fired in self-defense after Castile reached for a gun during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights last July. Ramsey County prosecutors argue there was no justification for firing several times into the car.
The killing of Castile, a 32-year-old black man from St. Paul, by Yanez, a 29-year-old Hispanic officer, sparked weeks of protests about police use of force, especially against people of color. The case is believed to be the first time a Minnesota police officer has been charged with a crime for killing someone in the line of duty.
The dash cam video was shown as part of the prosecution's opening statement Monday. It shows the whole exchange between Yanez and Castile lasted less than 90 seconds, MPR News reports.
Yanez, who had asked Castile for his driver's license, fired the shots less than 10 seconds after Castile told the officer he had a firearm with him, MPR says. "Don't reach for it," Yanez replies.
Castile tells the officer he's not reaching for it, KARE 11 reports, but Yanez interrupts, yelling "Don't pull it out!" The officer then fired seven shots into the car, while also repeating "Don't move," KARE says. Five of the shots hit Castile.
Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds was in the passenger seat, with her 4-year-old child in the back seat. After the shots are fired, Reynolds yells "Oh my God," the Star Tribune reports, while Yanez unleashes a barrage of profanity.
Reynolds then begins streaming and narrating a Facebook live video. When Yanez, still holding his gun, yells "I told him not to reach for it," Reynolds responds "You told him to get his ID, sir, and his driver's license," the Star Tribune reports.
Prosecutors noted that Yanez could have told Castile to freeze or put his hands up, MPR says. Defense attorney Paul Engh told jurors Yanez was using his self-defense training. "He has to be proactive. He is trained to go home at the end of the night. He is trained to protect himself,” FOX 9 quotes Engh as saying.
Reynolds takes the stand
Before Monday's proceedings ended, prosecutors called Reynolds to testify. She spoke mostly about her relationship with Castile, FOX says, and is expected to talk about the shooting when testimony resumes on Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, attorneys wrapped up jury selection. The 15 jurors include three alternates.
Two of the jurors are black and according to KSTP the defense tried to have one of them – an Ethiopian-American woman – removed, arguing she lacked a sufficient understanding of the criminal justice system. Prosecutors said that was a pretext to remove the woman because of her race and Judge William Leary rejected the defense challenge, the station says.