The jury is out on the Jeronimo Yanez trial. Yanez, a 29-year-old Latino officer, is charged in the July 6 death of Philando Castile.
After broadcasting on the radio that he believed he was stopping robbery suspects, he approached the passenger side of the car and encountered Philando Castile.
This is where the jury must decide whether there was a crime.
Yanez said that Castile reached for a gun when he told him not to and the prosecutor claims there was not a gun in sight.
Every law enforcement officer in America better be paying attention to this courtroom today. Unlike other officers that have been charged with manslaughter, this suspect had a gun.
The case from the Assistant Ramsey County Prosecutor Jeff Paulsen in his closing statement was that “Officer Yanez used deadly force as a first option rather than a last resort.”
That is not a crime and nothing in case law says that police officers must start from the lowest use of force option, especially when a gun is at play.
The other piece of evidence from the prosecution is they simply say that Yanez never saw a gun, even though he described the gun and what pocket it was in.
To convict, a jury would have to believe that a veteran police officer simply walked up to a car and shot a man without seeing any threats. The jury would have to believe that it was simply a coincidence that the same place the Officer Yanez said he saw a gun, a gun was present and that same jury would have to believe that all of that was proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
This is why this case should concern every police officer in America. There is a gun and there is a threat and if Officer Yanez is convicted or even remains in the system with a hung jury, then there isn’t one use of force that couldn’t come under the same scrutiny.
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