Lawyers for the Minnesota cop who fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in July wrote in court papers this week that the victim was “negligent” and caused his own death, reports CBS News.
The team of attorneys for St. Anthony, Minnesota, police officer Jeronimo Yanez asserted that Castile, 32, a Black elementary school cafeteria worker who was shot seven times, was high on marijuana while driving and ignored the officer’s order on July 6.
Yanez was charged with three felony counts — second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm, reports the Star Tribune. “He’s the first Minnesota officer charged in an on-duty killing in modern memory,” the report says.
Yanez stopped Castile and his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, on a traffic violation in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights before the fatal shooting. Reynolds livestreamed the horrifying aftermath on Facebook in a post that sparked more national debates about racial profiling and police misconduct.
But this week, Yanez’s defense team requested a dismissal of charges and made a number of claims, writes CBS News:
But in the defense documents, attorney Earl Gray wrote that Castile never told Yanez he had a permit to carry. Gray wrote that an objective review of squad car video confirms Yanez’s account of self-defense, “but more importantly why Mr. Castile himself was culpably negligent and was the substantial cause of his own demise.”
“He should not even have been driving while under the influence. He should have showed his hands. He should not have reached for the handgun,” Gray wrote.
The defense attorney also claimed that autopsy results showed Castile had high levels of THC in his blood, and hired an expert to testify that the victim was intoxicated during the fatal shooting.
“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 stated, writes CBS.
Glenda Hatchett, the Castile family’s attorney, said the “charges speak for themselves” and offered no further comment on the claims.
In related news, the St. Anthony police department has consented to a review by the U.S. Department of Justice as part of a “collaborative reform” effort, NBC News reports.