Lawyers for the Minnesota policeman who fatally shot Philando Castile over the summer want the charges against him dropped, blaming Castile’s negligence for the incident that cost him his life.
In documents filed Wednesday, Dec. 14, and obtained by The Associated Press, St. Anthony Officer Jeronimo Yanez’s attorneys said the victim’s marijuana use is the reason why he did not respond to the cop’s orders.
Atlanta Black Star reported Yanez pulled over Castile, who was licensed to carry, on July 6 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, for a broken taillight. Yanez shot Castile after the 32-year-old attempted to show his license and registration. The incident was captured on video by the victim’s girlfriend and streamed live on Facebook as her young daughter sat in the backseat.
In the documents, Yanez’s defense team said Castile’s alleged negligence should mean the the charges against their client — second-degree manslaughter and two felony counts of dangerously discharging a firearm — should be dismissed.
In the papers, attorney Earl Gray said results of the autopsy showed increased THC levels in Castile’s blood, which is why they believe he didn’t respond to Yanez’s commands. He added that an independent review of the dashcam video verified such findings including his client’s account of self-defense. Gray also said Castile did not have a license to carry and kept his hand in or around his pocket where the gun was located, which the attorney said violated Castile’s gun-safety training.
“How could it be that Officer Yanez knew or could have known that when Mr. Castile reached for his gun, he would not shoot a police officer dead?” Gray asked in the documents.
Castile family attorney Glenda Hatchett offered little comment on Gray’s claims, saying the charges against Yanez speak for themselves.
Four months after Castile’s family demanded the Department of Justice begin a federal investigation into the shooting, the DOJ’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services is set to reveal the findings of a probe into the St. Anthony Police Department. The inquiry was requested by the city in order to improve police and community relations. Statistics from the AP revealed Blacks are excessively arrested in Falcon Heights, the Saint Paul suburb that the department serves, neighboring Lauderdale and the city of St. Anthony itself. Although 7 percent of the population is Black, African-Americans comprised almost half of the arrests during the first half of 2016.