St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez and his lawyers filed a 14-page reply asserting that the Minnesota officer “indeed saw a gun,” during the July 6 encounter in which Philando Castile was killed, the Pioneer Press reports.
The claim obtained by the outlet marks the first time Yanez’s defense has claimed the use of deadly force was triggered by a gun sighting. “The gun was accessible, and Mr. Castile reached for it,” the memo further states.
Pioneer Press writes:
“The statement was included in the defense’s 14-page reply to a rebuttal filed by the state in January in response to the defense’s motion seeking the case’s dismissal. The reply was filed Tuesday afternoon in Ramsey County District Court.”
Yanez was able to accurately describe the gun found on Castile’s person the day after the shooting, the claim says.
A judge is expected to rule on the dismissal on February 15th.
The state previously argued that Yanez never saw a gun and acted prematurely. According to reports, Castile’s weapon was later discovered at the scene, lodged deep into his pocket. In November, the Ramsey County attorney’s office charged Yanez with manslaughter and dangerous discharge of his weapon.
The filing also argues that the perspectives of Yanez’s partner, Joseph Kauser, and Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, are irrelevant to the case.
Kauser, who witnessed the shooting from the passenger side of the vehicle, told investigators that he never saw a gun during the traffic stop. Reynolds used Facebook to livestream the incident, where she inferred that Castile was reaching for his license and registration when he was shot by Yanez.
Defense lawyers for Yanez also referred to their previous court filings asking for a case dismissal due to autopsy results that showed Castile was under the influence of marijuana during the incident. They argue his usage contributed to his own demise.
In their rebuttal, the prosecution argues that a jury should decide if Castile’s alleged marijuana use caused negligence and stand by their claim that Yanez’s decision to shoot was reckless.