Seconds podcast: The jury deliberates

Closing arguments are set to begin on Monday in the trial of a Minnesota police officer charged with fatally shooting a black motorist during a traffic stop past year, the aftermath of which was streamed on social media by the driver's girlfriend.

St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo (yeh-RON'-ih-moh) Yanez is charged with killing Philando Castile following a traffic stop last July in a St. Paul suburb.

At stake are charges of second-degree manslaughter and two lesser counts of endangering the safety of Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her daughter, who were both in the auto when Yanez fired seven rounds at Castile. Five of the seven shots he fired struck Castile.

The jury also watched a replay of the video that Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, livestreamed on Facebook beginning seconds after Castile had been shot.

The manslaughter trial went to a jury after both sides gave closing arguments Monday.

Conviction on the manslaughter charge requires the jury to find Yanez guilty of "culpable negligence", which the judge described in jury instructions as gross negligence with an element of recklessness.

Castile had the right to be treated like an "ordinary citizen" the night he was pulled over for a broken tail light, prosecutor Jeffrey Paulsen told jurors Monday morning. The jury also asked to review the transcript of Yanez's interview with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, but the judge denied the request. Closing arguments are set for Monday, June 12, in a Minnesota police officer’s manslaughter trial in the death of a black motorist. Yanez is led away while officers pull Castile from the vehicle and begin CPR. Yanez shot the 32-year-old school cafeteria worker seconds after Castile informed him he had a gun during a traffic stop.

The finger was injured during the incident and Paulsen explained to jurors that the photo is additional evidence that Castile's trigger finger could have not been in his pocket or on the gun when he was shot. Defense attorneys highlighted inconsistencies in Reynolds' statements to investigators to try to raise doubts about her honesty.

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In that Facebook video, Castile - bleeding heavily - insists that he hadn't been reaching for his gun, which he had a permit to carry.

In closing arguments Monday, defense attorney Earl Gray said Yanez, a 29-year-old Latino officer, "did what he had to do" in a justified use of force.

"Castile was responsive and listening to Yanez", Paulsen told jurors Monday.

He said Castile ignored Yanez's orders and reached for his gun while high on marijuana, adding Yanez felt his life was in danger during the situation and "did what he had to do". He also alluded to testimony from defense witnesses who portrayed Yanez as a good and honest man.

She says: "We need to just stand in solidarity".

He said it was reasonable to deduce that Castile had smoked marijuana the day of the shooting because THC, the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis, was found in his blood.

Yanez resorted to deadly force "before he was sure", Paulsen said.

After three white alternates were dismissed following closing arguments, the 12-member jury includes two blacks. They were scheduled to deliberate until 4:30 p.m. and will reconvene at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

  • Alfonso Moody