RAMSEY COUNTY, Minn. -- A Minnesota police officer appeared in court Friday on charges stemming from the shooting death of a black man during a traffic stop in a St. Paul suburb this summer.
St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez, 28, was released on his own recognizance after the brief hearing Friday. Yanez did not enter a plea. He is expected to enter a plea at a later date. His next hearing is set for Dec. 19.
Yanez, who is on unpaid administrative leave from the department, was charged this week with second-degree manslaughter in the July death of 32-year-old Philando Castile. Yanez was also charged with two felony counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm. Members of Castile’s family attended the hearing as did supporters of Yanez.
Nakia Wilson of St. Paul is a cousin of Castile’s. She says she went to court to see the face of the person who killed her cousin.
The shooting’s gruesome aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the car with Castile when he was shot. Her four-year-old daughter was in the backseat. Reynolds said Castile was shot several times while reaching for his ID after telling Yanez he had a gun permit and was armed.
Yanez’s attorney, Tom Kelly, has said Yanez, who is Latino, was reacting to the presence of a gun, and that one reason Yanez pulled Castile over was because he thought he looked like a possible match for an armed robbery suspect.
In an interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Friday, Kelly said he would argue in court the Yanez’s actions were justified.