Feb 27 A Minnesota police officer pleaded not
guilty to second-degree manslaughter on Monday for the fatal
shooting of a black motorist that sparked outrage when the
moments that followed were broadcast on social media, according
to a court official.
St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, who according to
media reports is Latino, entered a not guilty plea during a
hearing at the Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul,
Minnesota, for the shooting death of Philando Castile, said Beau
Berentson, spokesman for the state court administration office.
Castile, 32, was killed on July 6 in the St. Paul suburb of
Falcon Heights during a traffic stop. The shooting, along with
that of a black man by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the day
before, fueled public debate in the United States over the use
of excessive force by law enforcement.
Yanez's lawyer, Earl Gray, confirmed the plea but declined
to comment further. A lawyer for the Castile family did not
immediately respond to a request for comment.
Starting about 40 seconds after the shooting, Castile's
girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, streamed images of a bloody
Castile on Facebook Live from the vehicle's passenger seat. The
recording went viral on social media.
Yanez said he had reason to pull over the car because
Castile looked like a suspect in a convenience store robbery
that took place in the area four days earlier, court documents
said. Castile's vehicle also had a broken brake light.
Yanez asked Castile for his license and insurance permit.
Castile provided Yanez with his insurance permit and told the
officer that he was carrying a firearm.
Yanez told Castile not to reach for his gun. Castile said he
was not reaching for the gun before Yanez pulled his weapon and
shot him seven times.
The exchange took just over a minute. Castile's permit to
carry his gun was later found in his wallet.
Yanez later told investigators he feared for his life and
believed Castile was reaching for his weapon, the complaint
Besides manslaughter, Yanez was also charged in November
with two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm that
endangered the safety of Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter in
He pleaded not guilty to these charges as well, Gray said.
If convicted of manslaughter, Yanez could serve almost five
years in prison. His trial is scheduled to begin on May 30.
(Reporting by Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago; Editing by Lisa