Officer Yanez pleads not guilty to Philando Castile shooting

St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez pleaded not guilty Monday morning to manslaughter in the July shooting death of Philando Castile. The trial date is set for May 30.

Ramsey County District Court Judge William Leary III recently denied a defense request to dismiss the case.

Yanez shot Castile, 32, at a traffic stop on July 6 in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. During the stop, Castile told the officer he was armed. The aftermath of the fatal shooting was broadcast on Facebook Live by his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, who was a passenger in Castile’s vehicle. In the video stream, Reynolds says they were pulled over for a broken tail light.

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.”

The attorneys representing Yanez argue that the officer feared for his life and had no choice but to shoot Castile. They also say Castile disobeyed orders and was "stoned."