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Jury finds Minnesota cop not guilty in shooting of Philando Castile

Following the verdict, Officer Jeronimo Yanez was fired from the police department.

A jury on Friday found the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot black motorist Philandro Castile during a traffic stop last year not guilty of second-degree manslaughter.

St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez was charged after he fatally shot Castile, 32, last July. The aftermath was streamed live on social media by the driver's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was sitting in the passenger seat next to him, and the incident drew national attention and led to weeks of protests in St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The jury began deliberations on Monday.​

Ramsey County District Judge William H. Leary III on Tuesday granted the jury's request to view again videos of the traffic stop, as captured by the dashboard camera in Yanez's squad car and the Facebook Live post of the shooting's bloody aftermath filmed Reynolds. The jurors had seen the videos at least twice before during the trial.

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Yanez had testified that he was afraid for his life and that Castile did not follow his orders after he disclosed that he had a firearm.

On the video footage, Yanez can be heard saying, "OK don’t reach for it then.”

Castile responded, "I was reaching," but before he finished, Yanez, with right hand on his holster, said, "Don't pull it out."

"I'm not pulling it out," Castile is heard saying in the audio of the police tape.

Yanez then fired seven shots. Five hit Castile; two piercing his heart, prosecutors said. Another officer, perched on the passenger side of the vehicle, can be seen jumping back in the dashboard video.

"Shots fired," Yanez told police dispatch. Reynolds' voice can then be heard beginning her Facebook Live post. "Stay with me," Reynolds told a bleeding, gasping Castile.

Other officers soon arrived, and Yanez is heard cursing and saying he told Castile to stop. Officers then removed Castile from the car and attempted to revive him.

Leary refused ​a ​jury request to view a post-shooting video interview with Yanez by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, excerpts of which were read in court.

In the courtroom on Friday, people could be heard cursing as the verdict was read, and one woman sobbed. Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, abruptly left the court after the announcement and before court was formally dismissed.

The shooting in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, like similar incidents across the United States, fueled public debate about the appropriate use of force by law enforcement against minorities.

Following the verdict, Yanez was fired by the police department.

“The City of St. Anthony has concluded that the public will be best served if Officer Yanez is no longer a police officer in our city,” a statement said according to the Minnesota StarTribune. “The city intends to offer Officer Yanez a voluntary separation agreement to help him transition to another career other than being a St. Anthony officer.”

 
 
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