Officer Jeronimo Yanez is expected to take the stand today in his own defense for the shooting and killing of Philando Castile.
This will mark the first time since the July 6th incident that Officer Yanez will speak publicly and tell his side of what happened during the traffic stop that resulted in Castile’s death. The key questions that have been raised in the eight days of the trial so far are as follows: was Yanez justified in using deadly force, what impact did marijuana use have on Castile’s judgment leading up to the shooting and what was Castile reaching for when Yanez shot him. Was it a gun, as Yanez claims, or was Castile reaching for his seat belt or wallet as the state proposes. On Thursday several character witnesses testified that Yanez has a “reputation for honesty” in the community. That will likely be on the minds of jurors when Yanez takes the stand later today.
On Thursday the defense called use-of-force expert Joseph Dutton to the stand. Dutton testified that Officer Yanez used justifiable force when he killed Castile. And Dutton said he believes Yanez was “absolutely” in imminent danger in the moments after the traffic stop. Dutton said Yanez made a split second decision with life and death on the line, adding Yanez did “what he had to do.” The state countered that Dutton omitted key facts in reaching his conclusion. And of Dutton’s assertion that Yanez knew where Castile’s gun was when he shot Castile, the state asked why if Yanez knew where the gun was didn’t he tell other officers at the scene where it was. Dutton responded that based on dash cam video of the incident, Yanez looked “pretty traumatized.”
Also on Thursday, the defense toxicology expert, Glenn Hardin testified that in his opinion–based on the evidence, Castile was under the influence of marijuana during the traffic stop. But when pressed by the prosecution, Hardin admitted that blood samples taken post-mortem are less reliable than those taken from a living person.