ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - Another important hearing was held Tuesday morning in the case of the Minnesota police officer charged with killing Philando Castile. Attorneys for St. Anthony Police Officer Jeronimo Yanez are asking to see the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s investigation of the officer-involved shooting in the hope it may help their client.
Among the issues the court will consider is a defense motion asking prosecutors to hand over any opinions from BCA agents who investigated the case, believing they may support the officer's use of deadly force. Prosecutors filed a counter-motion, saying BCA agents didn't witness the shooting, so their opinions are irrelevant and should not be admitted at trial.
The most passionate arguments at Tuesday’s hearing concerned whether or not Officer Yanez can get fair trial in St. Paul. The defense has suggested moving the trial to Duluth, Hastings, St. Cloud or Brainerd, citing the heavy media coverage of the case in the Twin Cities. The lawyers argue that all of the publicity of the case "created a reasonable likelihood that a fair trial cannot be had.”
The defense also made a requests to throw out the manslaughter charge against Officer Yanez. The defense withdrew their motion to suppress Officer Yanez’s statement to the BCA, and, in response, prosecutors withdrew their opposition to that motion.
The judge expects to issue rulings on the motions by the end of the week. The trial is set to begin May 30.
Officer Yanez is charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Philando Castile during a traffic stop last summer. FIRST REPORT - Facebook video shows aftermath of police shooting in Falcon Heights, Minnesota
Ramsey County Attorney John Choi reviewed the case and concluded the use of deadly force during the July traffic stop was not justified. In February, Yanez entered a not guilty plea after the judge refused to dismiss the case.
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.”
Yanez claims he feared for his life, but prosecutors say Castile posed no immediate threat when he told the officer he was legally carrying a firearm. VIEW: Proof that Philando Castile had a permit to carry