MINNEAPOLIS – Prosecutors argued Wednesday that the case against the Minnesota police officer who fatally shot Philando Castile during a July traffic stop should proceed, saying several issues raised by the defense team — including the suggestion that Castile was negligent — must be left for a jury to resolve.
Attorneys for St. Anthony police Officer Jeronimo Yanez asked in December that the case be dismissed because Castile was negligent in his own death and did not obey the officer's commands.
But evidence disputes those claims, prosecutors said in a Wednesday court filing, adding that even if Castile was negligent, it was not an intervening, superseding cause of his death as a matter of law.
A hearing on the motion to dismiss is scheduled for Feb. 15.
Castile, who was black, was killed July 6 after being pulled over in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights. The shooting's gruesome aftermath was streamed live on Facebook by his girlfriend, who was in the car along with her young daughter. Prosecutors said the 32-year-old elementary school cafeteria worker was shot at seven times after he told Yanez he was armed. Authorities later discovered that Castile had a permit to carry a weapon.
Yanez, who is Latino, is charged with manslaughter and other offenses. He has not yet entered a plea, but his attorneys have indicated he will plead not guilty.
Prosecutors' filing said the evidence suggests Castile was trying to get his wallet when he was shot and that squad video and audio, which has not been made public, shows Yanez never told Castile to show his hands, disputing Yanez's claim that Castile disobeyed that order.
Defense attorneys also claimed last month that Castile was negligent because he was high on marijuana. Prosecutors said THC was found in Castile's blood, but there is no evidence of erratic driving and the squad video shows Castile conversed normally with Yanez and followed directions.
Prosecutors also said that Yanez's claim that he believed Castile was an armed robbery suspect is unreasonable. They said Yanez did not carry out a high-risk traffic stop, and he asked Castile for his driver's license and proof of insurance without determining if he was armed.
"Thus, even crediting Defendant's account that he shot Castile because he could not see one of his hands, Defendant recklessly created the perceived risk he now claims justified his use of deadly force," prosecutors wrote.
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