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Prosecution Wraps, Defense Starts In Yanez Trial

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- The prosecution has rested its case Thursday in the trial against Officer Jeronimo Yanez.

He's charged with manslaughter for shooting and killing Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer. Thursday marked day eighth of the trial.

The prosecution was out to prove that officer Yanez was not justified in his use of deadly force, and wrapped its case just after 9 a.m. Thursday.

Officer Jeronimo Yanez is expected to testify in his own defense on Friday. He'll be telling jurors why he felt threatened by Philando Castile during the traffic stop to the point of firing seven shots into him.

The prosecution rested its case Thursday morning, at which time defense moved for judgement of acquittal, saying the state's case was insufficient. Judge William Leary promptly denied that. Then the defense team put their witnesses on the stand.

The first witness called by the defense was a firefighter who testified about hearing Castile's gun drop on the ground out of his pocket when they moved him onto a stretcher.

Jurors heard Thursday from another police use of force expert - this one hired by the defense. And it didn't take long to give jurors his opinion that Officer Yanez was justified in using deadly force.

Just five seconds after Castile said he had a firearm, seven shots rang out.

Use of force expert for the defense, Joe Dutton, told jurors "When Yanez saw the C-shaped grip of Castile's hand, he had to react to the actions of Mr. Castile." Adding, "This truly was a split second decision, there wasn't time to do anything else."

Prosecution has pointed to inconsistencies in what Yanez said about the gun.

Just before Dutton, the man who gave Castile his conceal-and-carry permit class, testified. He said he teaches students if stopped by police, "The first thing to do is hands 10-and-2 on the wheel. Let officers know you have a permit and where it (the gun) is located."

The defense called St. Anthony Police Chief Jon Mangseth. He talked about the training Yanez had, and praised him as a good officer who was often on community detail because he was a great public speaker for the force.

Mangseth pointed to the department's sanctity of life creed. But as to deadly force, he added, "Sometimes you can't wait, no!"

Under cross examination was asked, "You don't teach officers to shoot a person if their hands go out of sight?" The chief answered, "It depends on the circumstances."

Prosecution keeps reminding jurors Castile's gun was loaded with a magazine but didn't have a bullet in the chamber, meaning it wouldn't have fired even if he had pulled it out without pulling back on the receiver. But a fellow officer and force trainer said officers are trained to never assume a gun is unloaded.

Yanez, 29, is also charged with two counts of intentional discharge of a firearm for endangering the two passengers.

Jurors could get the case as early as Monday.


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