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

Closing arguments are set for Monday.
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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.

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