Use-of-force expert: Minnesota officer justified in shooting

Kelly Massey
June 10, 2017

"I had no other choice".

"I did not want to shoot Mr. Castile. Those were not my intentions".

Yanez's wife and parents watched from the front row of the gallery.

The defense has rested in the trial of a Minnesota police officer charged with manslaughter in the death of a black motorist. A bullet also struck the back seat, about 16 inches from where her four-year-old child was strapped into a vehicle seat.

Reynolds pulled out her cellphone and began live-streaming the shooting's aftermath on Facebook as Castile bled to death.

Dutton worked as a police officer for more than 30 years in both Mound and Golden Valley.

"When (Yanez) said he saw that C-grip. that's Castile pulling it".

But Yanez's lawyers say Castile ignored the officer's commands and reached for his gun when he was instructed not to do so.

When prosecutors questioned him about the commands Yanez yelled at Castile, Kapelsohn said, "Officers are not ideal".

Yanez testified Friday that he told Castile not to reach for his gun and Castile continued to pull it out of his pocket. Castile's last words were, "I wasn't reaching for it".

Elliot Erdman, a fellow St. Anthony police officer and close friend of Yanez, also took the witness stand Friday.

The elementary school cafeteria worker, who told the officer that he had a firearm he was licensed to carry, had been reaching for his ID or seatbelt when Yanez opened fire, Reynolds said. Castile "had total disregard for my commands", he said. Kapelsohn disagreed, saying the central question to him was whether Yanez "reasonably believed that Castile was pulling out a firearm".

The video of the shooting was played several times throughout the trial.

Paulsen also said it was curious Kapelsohn opted to leave out Yanez's initial statement on the scene about not knowing where the gun was from his report, as well as any mention that Castile was wearing a seatbelt during the incident.

KARE 11's Lou Raguse has been in the courtroom since the start of the trial, and says jurors could be seen taking detailed notes during Kapelsohn's testimony about his experiment.

"It is my opinion Officer Yanez used reasonable force", Kapelsohn said.

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Yanez took off his glasses at time to wipe tears with a tissue from his eyes when describing the moment he fired the gun.

Yanez was working for the St. Anthony police department when he pulled over Castile on July 6 because he looked similar to a robbery suspect.

Dusterhoft was able to confirm with Olson that Reynolds had learned only an hour prior that Castile had died when she told him she was hungry.

He said he reached into the vehicle to try and stop Castile but felt the use of force was necessary, reasonable but ultimately tragic.

"I don't have to stick my hand in the pocket", he said.

"No, I'm sure", Yanez replied.

"So are you saying that when Officer Yanez said, 'I don't know where the gun was, ' he really did know where the gun was?"

"I'm not sure", Yanez replied before repeating that his statement was given shortly after experiencing a traumatic incident. Yanez said it was implied. The defense then called an expert who testified that Yanez justifiably used deadly force when he shot Castile.

Kapelsohn said tests he conducted showed it would take less than three-tenths of a second to draw a gun like Castile's from a holster in the pocket of shorts like Castile was wearing.

"It changes the dynamic of the traffic stop", Yanez responded.

"Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me", Castile told Yanez before he was shot, according to the Associated Press. The wallet, with Castile's driver's license and gun permit, was found in a pocket at the hospital, but medical staff couldn't specify which one.

Earlier this week, Reynolds testified that she felt she had to record the encounter with Yanez out of fear for her own life. He called his decision to shoot "unreasonable" and "excessive".

"Just because an officer gets nervous... that's not a good enough reason to use deadly force", Paulsen asked him.

Officer Jeronimo Yanez, facing a manslaughter charge in the death of Philando Castile, said he could clearly see the gun that Castile had just told the officer he was carrying.

Testimony ended Friday; closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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