A jury found Jeronimo Yanez not guilty Friday in the death of Castile, a 32-year-old cafeteria worker, whose death last summer caused national outrage.
The aftermath of the shooting was streamed on Facebook Live by Castile’s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds. A dying Castile can be seen in the driver’s seat wearing a blood-soaked white t-shirt. Reynolds sitting in the passenger seat appears calm and collected as her daughter sits in the back seat.
According to Reynolds, Castile informed Yanez that he had a licensed firearm and was reaching for his ID or seatbelt when the officer opened fire.
Yanez told a different tale, stating Castile was reaching for his gun and had his hand on the weapon.
“I told him not to reach for it,” Yanez is seen screaming on the Facebook video, moments after opening fire.
Although Yanez’s defense was hinged on the placement of the gun, dashcam video showed that the veteran officer wasn’t aware of a gun.
Additionally, Castile is heard saying “I’m not pulling it out” before Yanez opened fire on him.
Yanez has asserted that he was afraid for his life and suspected the black motorist was involved in a robbery that had occurred a few days prior.
Prosecutors contested that fear doesn’t justify the deadly action.
“Being nervous is not a reason to shoot and kill somebody,” federal prosecutor Jeffrey Paulsen said in Ramsey County Distrct Court in St. Paul.
Castile’s death followed another high profile police shooting in Baton Rogue, La. One day before Castile was killed, Alton Sterling was shot dead by local police outside of a convenience store.
Sterling’s death was captured on cell phone video and caused an uproar among civil right leaders and activists. The officers involved in Sterling’s death were never held criminally responsible as a jury decided not to indict the pair.
If Yanez was convicted he faced 10 years in prison.