ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A Minnesota judge on Wednesday declined to dismiss charges against a police officer who shot and killed a black man during a July traffic stop, saying it’s fair and reasonable for the case to go to trial.
Ramsey County District Court Judge William Leary III said St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez will enter a plea at a Feb. 27 hearing. His attorneys have indicated he will plead not guilty to manslaughter and other counts in the shooting death of Philando Castile.
Castile was killed July 6 after he was pulled over in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. The shooting’s gruesome aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by his girlfriend, who was in the car along with her young daughter. Prosecutors said the 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker told Yanez he was armed and then was shot seven times. Authorities later discovered Castile had a permit to carry a weapon.
Attorneys for Yanez, who is Latino, argued their client had no choice but to shoot Castile after he saw a gun and perceived a threat to his life. Defense attorneys have also argued that Castile was negligent in his own death, that he was impaired by marijuana, and that he had no right to be carrying a gun or driving while under the influence.
Prosecutors argued the case should proceed because the defense raised several issues that prosecutors dispute - including whether or not Yanez saw Castile’s gun and whether Castile was impaired. Prosecutors said those issues should be decided by a jury.
Leary said a victim’s alleged unreasonable conduct does not, by itself, require that a charge be dismissed.
Leary also wrote that, given the evidence disclosed by prosecutors, it is fair and reasonable for the case to proceed. He said both sides interpret the evidence differently, and if a jury accepts the state’s interpretation, there is a chance it could prevail.