Skip to main content

Yanez says he 'thought I was going to die' before he fatally shot Philando Castile

Closing arguments are set for Monday.

The officer who's on trial for fatally shooting Philando Castile told his side of the story in court Friday.

Jeronimo Yanez, who is charged with manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm in connection with Castile's July 6, 2016, death, testified in his own defense. This was the first time Yanez has spoken publicly since he was charged.

"I was scared to death," Yanez told the jury, according to KARE 11. "I thought I was going to die. My family popped into my head. My wife. My baby girl."

The officer testified he initially pulled Castile over that day because the driver looked like a suspect in a gas station robbery from few days before, and after Castile said he had a firearm on him, it put Yanez on "high alert," MPR News reports.

Yanez also testified that he saw part of Castile's gun before he shot him, reports say.

"I had no other choice. I was forced to engage Mr. Castile. He was not complying with my directions," Yanez said in court, according to the Star Tribune.

Before Yanez took the stand Friday afternoon, the defense had a use of force expert testify, who said Yanez used reasonable force and did what any other officer would have done in the same situation, WCCO reporter Mary McGuire tweeted.

However, the prosecution has maintained Yanez's actions were unreasonable, and has tried to prove Castile was cooperating with Yanez when the 32-year-old told the officer he had a gun, The Associated Press reports.

Closing arguments in the case are set for Monday, according to MPR's Jon Collins.

Yanez's case is believed to be the first time a police officer in Minnesota has been prosecuted for fatally shooting a person while on duty. If you're looking for detailed, day-to-day coverage of the trial, check out MPR News' blog and podcast.

Next Up

brave new workshop

Brave New Workshop gets new owners in Hennepin Theatre Trust

It is the longest-running satirical comedy theater in the nation.

Screen Shot 2021-12-06 at 8.05.11 AM

Minnesota firefighters mourn sudden death of colleague

Aaron Bidle of the Loretto Fire Department passed away suddenly Wednesday.

flickr - thin ice warning - USFWS Midwest

Snowmobiler goes through the ice on lake near Duluth

Ice thickness varies greatly throughout Minnesota right now.

snow, measuring snow, snow totals

Here's how much snow fell during the weekend winter winter storm

The Highway 2 corridor in north-central Minnesota was the bullseye.

Minneapolis Fire Department

Roof collapses on 3 firefighters in south Minneapolis

The fire happened at a residence east of Lake Nokomis on Sunday.

Joleigha Johnson

42-year-old Minnesota woman missing since December 1

She drives a white 2009 Chevrolet Impala.

icy roads, bad roads

20-year-old killed in crash on icy highway during Sunday snowstorm

More than a foot of snow had fallen in the area where the crash occurred.

Mike Zimmer

Vikings fans clamor for change after latest bad loss under Mike Zimmer

The "fire Mike Zimmer" tweets are raging on Twitter again.

Tony Oliva

Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat are finally heading to Cooperstown

The Twins legends were elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday night.

Tanner Morgan

Report: Gophers to play in Guaranteed Rate Bowl

The Gophers will reportedly head to Phoenix to take on West Virginia.

Adam Thielen

Winless Lions beat Vikings on final play of game

Adam Thielen also left early with an ankle injury


Jeronimo Yanez found not guilty in Philando Castile's death

Jurors deliberated for five days before reaching a unanimous decision.

Jurors see dash cam footage of Yanez shooting Castile

Opening arguments in the cop's manslaughter trial included video.

ICYMI: Charges against Jeronimo Yanez reveal Philando Castile's final moments

Castile's last words, recorded at 9:06.04, were: "I wasn't reaching for it."

Dashcam video from the Philando Castile shooting

The video released Tuesday is graphic. It was shown to the jury during the Jeronimo Yanez trial.

Officer Yanez will go to trial in Philando Castile case

Yanez's attorneys filed a motion to try to get the case dismissed.

Philando Castile's family reaches $3M settlement in his death

The settlement avoids a federal civil rights lawsuit.