Friday, June 16, 2017

The jury remains out

It's now been most of the week and we still don't have a verdict, or anything close to a verdict, in the trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the St. Anthony police officer who shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights:
Jurors concluded about 24 hours of deliberations in the manslaughter trial of officer Jeronimo Yanez without reaching a verdict, pushing talks into their fifth day Friday.

There was little activity Thursday before the jurors were recessed for the day about 4:30 p.m.

In a change from previous days, the jury had lunch catered in instead of leaving the Ramsey County Courthouse. The jury of five women and seven men, including two people of color, first appeared to be stalled Wednesday on whether Yanez is criminally culpable for last year’s fatal shooting of Philando Castile.

About 1:40 p.m. Thursday, Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, and her attorney Glenda Hatchett arrived at the eighth floor of the courthouse to await any developments, leaving about an hour before jurors when it became apparent that nothing would come that day.
The longer the jury is out, the higher the tension rises. The key issue remains unresolved -- it's not whether Yanez shot Castile, which is beyond dispute. What matters more is why Yanez stopped Castile in the first place:
Prosecutors argued that Yanez, who is Mexican-American, racially profiled Castile, a black man, when he stopped him for a nonworking brake light. Yanez testified that he also wanted to investigate whether Castile was a suspect in the armed robbery of a nearby convenience store four days earlier. Castile was never connected to the robbery.

Defense attorneys argued that Castile was culpably negligent in the shooting because he volunteered that he possessed a gun without disclosing that he had a permit to carry it, that he reached for it instead of keeping his hands visible, and that he was high on marijuana, rendering him incapable of following Yanez’s order not to reach for the gun. Yanez testified last week that he fired because he feared for his life.
We keep hearing that Castile was not connected to the robbery, but at that point Yanez could not have known that. We've touched on it before, but to this day the robbery remains unresolved.

I live about a mile and a half from St. Anthony's government complex. If the jury comes back with a not guilty verdict, we could see a Ferguson-type response to the verdict fairly close to home. Stay tuned.

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