Police officer who shot Philando Castile found not guilty

Police officer who shot Philando Castile found not guilty
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A Minnesota police officer who was charged with manslaughter after he shot a black motorist five times during a traffic stop last year was found not guilty by a jury on Friday, according to multiple reports.

Defense attorneys said Jeronimo Yanez, the 29-year-old Latino police officer, was scared for his life when he shot Philando Castile, 32, seconds after Castile informed the officer he was armed.

Prosecutors insisted Yanez never saw the gun and had plenty of options other than shooting Castile, who was an elementary school cafeteria worker.

The officer was also acquitted of two counts of discharging a firearm that endangers safety, according to CNN, which reported that several members of Castile's family screamed profanities and cried Friday after the verdicts were announced.

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Castile's death went viral after his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, live streamed the immediate aftermath of the shooting on Facebook, seconds after Castile was shot by the officer.

Video captured from Yanez's squad car showed Yanez approaching Castile's car and Castile's voice warning the officer, "Sir, I have to tell you, I do have a firearm on me." Before Castile can even finish the sentence, Yanez begins shouting. There is an exchange of words, before Yanez yells, "Don't pull it out!" and shoots Castile five times.

The video shows Yanez firing into the car but doesn't show any of Castile's actions inside the car. Some of the conversation between Yanez and Castile is unintelligible.

Yanez was charged with endangering the lives of Reynolds and her 4-year-old daughter, who was in the car during the shooting, but found not guilty.

In November, Ramsey County Attorney John Choi argued that Yanez's use of force was unwarranted, because Castile never attempted to access his gun.

After the verdict, Castile's mother Valerie was quoted by The New York Times saying, “My son loved this city, and this city killed my son. And a murderer gets away. Are you kidding me right now?”

“The system in this country continues to fail black people and will continue to fail us," she added.

Ten members of the 12-person jury were white, while the remaining two were black. Reynolds says in the video that Castile never reached for his gun, but defense attorneys targeted inconsistencies in her story to cast doubt on her credibility.

Updated: 4:49 p.m.