Less than a week after a St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer was acquitted of second-degree manslaughter and firearms-related charges in the shooting death of a black motorist, newly-released dash camera video is giving new insight into the deadly encounter.
Officer Jeronimo Yanez shot and killed Philando Castile in July 2016 during a traffic stop. The dash camera video, which was played for the jury during Yanez’s trial, shows the officer approaching Castile’s vehicle and advising him that he had been pulled over because of a broken brake light.
When asked for his license and registration, Castile, who was licensed to carry a gun, tells the officer that he does have a firearm on him. Officer Yanez tells him not to pull it out, and it appears that Castile attempts to tell Yanez that he is not reaching for the gun when the officer opens fire. In a separate audio recording, Yanez can be heard telling the dispatcher that Castile and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, resembled suspects in a recent robbery.
Following the shooting, Yanez, who is visibly shaken and yelling obscenities, keeps his weapon pointed at the fatally wounded Castile as he waits for backup to arrive. When other officers reach the scene and start to question Yanez, he can be heard saying that he never saw a gun but that he was nervous because Castile kept staring straight ahead and that he thought Castile’s grip was wider than necessary to grab his wallet. In a subsequent interview, Yanez also seemed to attribute part of his fear to what he perceived as the smell of burned marijuana coming from the vehicle.
The death of Castile gained nationwide attention after Reynolds streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook Live. Since his acquittal, Yanez has been terminated from his position with the police department. The city announced on its website that it is in the process of offering Yanez a voluntary separation agreement.