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June 24 2017, 05:20 | Irvin Gilbert
Officer never saw Philando Castile's gun before shooting, prosecutor says
Closing arguments are set to begin on Monday in the trial of a Minnesota police officer charged with fatally shooting a black motorist during a traffic stop previous year, the aftermath of which was streamed on social media by the driver's girlfriend.
FILE - In this July 25, 2016, file photo, a memorial including a photo of Philando Castile adorns the gate to the governor's residence in St. Paul, Minn., protesting the July 6, 2016 shooting death of Castile by St. Anthony police officer Jeronimo Yanez.
Jurors resume deliberations Tuesday in the manslaughter trial of a Minnesota police officer who fatally shot a black motorist seconds after the man informed him he was carrying a gun.
In that Facebook video, Castile - bleeding heavily - insists that he hadn't been reaching for his gun, which he had a permit to carry.
The Star Tribune reports that the jury of five women and seven men, including just two people of color, received the case at 1:10 p.m. local time Monday.
Meanwhile, supporters of Castile also gathered Tuesday at the St. Paul courthouse where the jury was deliberating.
In closing arguments Monday, defense attorney Earl Gray said Yanez, a 29-year-old Latino officer, "did what he had to do" in a justified use of force.
Judge William H. Leary III looks on during the questioning of Emanuel Kapelsoh, a use-of-force expert testifying for Officer Jeronimo Yanez.
Yanez said that gave him "strong suspicions" about Castile, so he concluded Philando was one of the robbery suspects.
But during closing arguments on Monday, Yanez's defense team said Castile reached for his gun when he was told not to.
"I told him, 'Don't pull it out, ' " Yanez testified in court, adding that he tried to distract Philando, but "he continued to pull his firearm out of his pocket".
Prosecutor Jeff Paulsen asked the jury to convict. He also cited testimony from first responders who saw Castile's gun in his pocket as he was loaded onto a backboard.
Defense attorneys also argued that Castile was high on marijuana.
The police video of the traffic stop and the Facebook Live post by Castile's girlfriend Diamond Reynolds, who was in the passenger seat next to him, were played in court Monday.
Leary III defined culpable negligence in his jury instructions as "intentional conduct that the defendant may not have meant to be harmful, but that an ordinary and reasonable prudent person would recognize as involving a strong probability of injury to others", adding the concept includes gross negligence coupled with an element recklessness. "And now they've been deprived of that role model".
A 15-member jury was pared to 12 after closing arguments wrapped up and three alternates were dismissed.
Conviction on the manslaughter charge requires the jury to find Yanez guilty of "culpable negligence", which the judge described in jury instructions as gross negligence with an element of recklessness. The rest are white, and no jurors are Latino.
In closing, Gray told the jury, "It's not that hard of a case".
Yanez is facing charges for second-degree murder and risky discharge of a firearm.
"We all know this is a sad case". Gray said prosecutors were taking the statements out of context.