St. Anthony, Minn., Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and other charges in the fatal shooting of Philando Castile today, signaling that the case will head to trial.
Yanez entered his plea Monday in a brief hearing. Ramsey County District Judge William Leary III set a May 30 trial date, according to the Associated Press.
Yanez shot Castile, 32, during a July 6 traffic stop after Castile informed the officer that he was armed with a weapon that he had a permit to carry. The case quickly garnered national outrage, especially since Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was in the car at the time, streamed the shooting’s aftermath live on Facebook. Reynolds’ 4-year-old daughter was also in the car at the time of the shooting.
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi reviewed the case and concluded the use of deadly force during the July traffic stop was not justified.
According to the criminal complaint: “Yanez communicated his intent to pull over Castile’s vehicle by radio to St. Anthony Police Officer Joseph Kauser who was on patrol nearby. Yanez told Kauser that he had reason to pull the vehicle over and that the occupants ‘just look like the people that were involved in a robbery.’ Yanez further stated that ‘the driver looks more like one of our suspects just because of the wide set nose.’ Yanez noted that he also had reason to stop the vehicle because it had a non-working brake light. Yanez followed Castile’s vehicle, waiting until Kauser arrived as backup.”
Attorneys for Yanez, who is Latino, have argued that their client feared for his life and had no choice but to shoot Castile.