Minnesota officer acquitted in fatal shooting of motorist Philando Castile


A Minnesota police officer was cleared Friday in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile, a black motorist whose death captured national attention when his girlfriend streamed the grim aftermath on Facebook.

Yanez, 29, had faced one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of reckless discharge of a firearm in Castile's death.

The 12-member jury deliberated for 27 hours before finding Jeronimo Yanez, who is Hispanic, not guilty on all charges, according to the Minnesota Star Tribune newspaper.

An audio recording captured Castile telling Yanez he had a gun in the vehicle, and the officer telling Castile not to reach for it. Seconds later, Yanez opened fire.

Mr Yanez testified that he feared for his life when Mr Castile grabbed for his firearm, even though he was told not to. Family members immediately tried to leave the courtroom, and did so after security officers briefly barred their way. They portrayed him as being too quick to pull the trigger after learning Castile had a gun-one he was legally permitted to carry. After he was shot, Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds - who was with him in the auto along with her daughter - started live streaming on Facebook.

Mr Castile had a permit for the weapon and prosecutors questioned whether Mr Yanez ever saw the gun. On Tuesday, they re-watched Yanez's dashcam video and Reynolds' Facebook Live videos. Under the circumstances, just because he's a police officer, that makes it OK. "I told him to get his hands up". That is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.

The defense claimed Castile disregarded Yanez's orders during the traffic stop because he was stoned. She was praised for her split-second decision to stream the shooting's aftermath and her measured responses to Yanez, who had just fired shots into the auto and still had his gun out.

Yanez had been facing up to 10 years in prison in the case. He was stopped for a broken taillight and told Yanez he was licensed to carry a gun and had one in the vehicle.

"I'm not pulling it out", Castile is heard saying in the audio of the police tape. Twin City News reports that Yanez was the first law enforcement officer in recent Minnesota history, to be incriminated in an on-duty homicide.

Leary refused a jury request to view a post-shooting video interview with Yanez by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, excerpts of which were read in court.

The force, in suburban St. Paul, said in March that they had outlines goals and objectives from the federal review including its relationship with black people, who accounted for roughly 38% of arrests since 2011 despite only making up 7% of residents in the immediate area. "But nevertheless the system continues to fail black people", Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, reportedly told media after the verdict. "That's enough to pull your gun out and end the threat".

Prosecutors insist Yanez never saw a gun and had plenty of options short of shooting Castile.