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Castile shooter Yanez charged with manslaughter

ST. PAUL -- The St. Anthony police officer charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Philando Castile entered no plea Friday in his first appearance in Ramsey County District Court.

ST. PAUL - The St. Anthony police officer charged with manslaughter in the shooting death of Philando Castile entered no plea Friday in his first appearance in Ramsey County District Court.

Jeronimo Yanez’s next court date is set for Dec. 19.

He has not been taken into custody.

Nearly 50 people, including some of Castile’s family, supporters of Yanez, community members and journalists attended the first court appearance.

Thomas Kelly, one of the attorneys representing Yanez, said Friday afternoon that they were disappointed that Ramsey County Attorney John Choi had chosen to bring charges against the officer. He said they will argue that Yanez is not guilty.

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“We also are concerned about the statements of County Attorney Choi that Officer Yanez acted unreasonably and no officer would have acted the way he did,” Kelly said. “We found those statements to be unnecessary and unfairly prejudicial. We agree with the governor that the matter should be resolved through the judicial process at this point.”

Castile’s cousin, Nakia Wilson of St. Paul, attended Friday’s hearing and said it brought up a range of overwhelming emotions - confusion, sadness and nervousness. She said it was going to feel “heavy” as the family waited for the next court date through the holidays.

“We’re pleased we’re at this point,” Wilson said. “It seems unreal, but we’re here. … I just want justice served for my cousin.”

For Yanez’s part, he has been “under a great deal of stress and pressure,” said Kelly, who added, “He’s a strong man and he’s holding up admirably.”

Yanez’s attorneys received the investigative reports in the case Friday and will review them to begin preparing their defense, Kelly said.

Tyrone Terrill, president of the African American Leadership Council, says justice necessitates a guilty verdict.

“The bottom line for me is that (Yanez) ends up in jail,” Terrill said. “It’s gut-wrenching and people don’t understand a man’s whole family was destroyed because of the act of one person … because he did not value Philando’s humanity.”

Some of those in attendance Friday were disappointed that Yanez was not taken into custody and charged on a summons. That means he is responsible for appearing in court but did not have a warrant issued for his arrest.

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Montey LeSure came to see Yanez’s first court appearance as a concerned citizen. He said he’s familiar with Castile’s family, though he doesn’t know them personally.

“Anybody who has a murder trial, a manslaughter trial, they get a bail, but he’s out on his own recognizance,” LeSure said. “That is outrageous. I don’t understand - why would he be treated any differently? He shot this man seven times in front of a child, in front of his woman.”

As of Friday morning, the Ramsey County sheriff’s office had set up a small trailer with mobile surveillance cameras outside the Law Enforcement Center. It was in preparation for Yanez’s first court appearance, said Sgt. John Eastham, sheriff’s office spokesman. Extra deputies also were posted inside.

“It is our job to provide for the safety and security of everyone who is in the Law Enforcement Center,” Eastham said. “The camera is just a part of those preparations.”

On Thursday, Yanez, 28, was fingerprinted and had his photo taken.

Yanez is on unpaid administrative leave from the St. Anthony Police Department, which contracts with Falcon Heights for police services. Castile was shot during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights on July 6.

Related Topics: CRIME
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